A Michigan man, who’s spent the last 30 years in the U.S. — accounting for half his childhood and his entire adult life — was forced back to Mexico by ICE authorities this week as his family offered their emotional goodbyes.
“It was devastating,” Cindy Garcia, the wife of Jose Garcia, told CBS news. “We did not want to let him go. We said our goodbyes, we told him, ‘I love you, we’re going to miss you,’ but you don’t want to let someone go that you love. It’s very hard.”
Garcia was 10 years old when he was taken across the border by an uncle and has lived in the U.S. since. He’s since married an American woman and fathered two American children.
Despite having no criminal record and being granted multiple stays during the Obama administration, the family says Garcia’s been deported thanks to mistakenly filed paperwork.
Cindy said their first lawyer did not follow the proper immigration procedures.
“Jorge was exposed to ICE because of this application that should not have been filed,” Diego Bonesatti of Michigan United Legal Services said.
Now the fight to keep Garcia in the country where he grew up has become a struggle to bring him back.
“I understand that the president wants to protect our borders. But at the same time, if my husband was brought here as a child, he has no criminal record, each individual case needs to be looked at because we try to do the right thing. It’s not like we didn’t. We tried,” Cindy said.
In a statement to CBS News, ICE said that anyone violating immigration laws “may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and… removal from the United States.”
Cindy and her children don’t expect to see Garcia for at least 18 months as they await an appointment with the U.S. Consulate.
It’s unclear when, if ever, Garcia will be allowed back in the country. But Cindy said she and her family intend to make sure Garcia’s is a story that is told.
“There will be no ICE coming to the door to try and deport me because I am a U.S. citizen. There’s nothing ICE can do to shut me up,” she said.