Rep. Debbie Dingell plans to have Cindy Garcia, the wife of a 39-year-old Lincoln Park man deported to Mexico, as her guest at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.
Jorge Garcia was deported Monday after leaving Mexico for the United States nearly 30 years ago at age 10. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency told him that he was scheduled for deportation in November but he was allowed more time at home over the holidays.
The landscaper’s struggle to stay in the United States ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when his wife and two teen children saw him off at Detroit Metro Airport, weeping and clinging to him before the 39-year-old boarded a plane bound for Mexico City.
“It’s just a nightmare,” Cindy Garcia, a U.S. citizen, said this week. “You can’t even put it into words how it feels.”
Dingell, the Dearborn Democrat, said she is going to bring Cindy Garcia to Trump’s Jan. 30 speech before a joint session of Congress. She said she is working to get the family reunited as soon as possible.
“This week, America watched in horror as Jorge Garcia, a father of two and husband to an American citizen, who was brought to this country at 10 years old and has never received so much as a traffic ticket, was torn from his family and the only home he knows,” Dingell said in a statement.
“The Garcia family’s story is heartbreaking and infuriating. It is both a symptom of a long-broken immigration system and a new rash immigration policy that does not recognize the difference between a hardworking family man and a criminal. This must change.
“Jorge’s wife Cindy has shown incredible resilience and courage in the face of these impossible circumstances. I am honored that she will join me at the State of the Union to be a voice for the hundreds of thousands of aspiring Americans who are part of the fabric of our communities, and who deserve a pathway to legal status in the country they call home.”
State Rep. Cara Clemente, D-Lincoln Park, said Thursday that Cindy Garcia also will be her guest at Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State speech before the state’s senators and representatives on Tuesday.
Unlike Trump, the Republican incumbent has called himself the most pro-immigration governor in America and sees immigrants as encouraging development and jobs.
“Cindy has my support as she advocates for her husband’s return to his family. The Garcia family are active members of their church in Lincoln Park and their children attend our public schools,” Clemente said in a statement.
“As Lincoln Park’s representative, I am proud to stand with Cindy as she attempts to hold her family together during this trying time and I look forward to the day they will be reunited.”
Both Dingell and Clemente said they helped convince ICE to let Jorge Garcia stay at home in Lincoln Park through the holidays.
The Lincoln Park resident, whom ICE officials called Jorge Garcia-Martinez, had long sought legal status, relatives and activists say. Jorge Garcia also annually met with immigration officials and had no criminal record.
He was one of an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States and was considered “unlawfully present,” according to ICE.
“Interior removals,” people deported after being arrested away from the border, jumped 25 percent to 81,603 from 65,332 in the 2016 fiscal year, according to the U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement agency. They rose 37 percent since Trump’s inauguration compared with the same period a year earlier.
“As ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” said Khaalid Walls, northeast regional communications director for ICE. “All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”
Jorge Garcia is too old to seek protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allowed unauthorized children who came to the country with their parents to work and go to college, and granted them a two-year deferment from deportation.
Trump rescinded the Obama program — which was launched by executive order instead of congressional action — and has given Congress until March to codify the program into law.
A judge originally ordered Jorge Garcia-Martinez to be deported in June 2006. An appeal in 2008 was unsuccessful but the court allowed him to voluntarily depart the country within a certain amount of time, according to ICE.
Because Garcia-Martinez failed to leave the country, he received a final order of removal in 2009. Walls said ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion on multiple occasions in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and never detained the Lincoln Park man until this year.
There is a 10-year ban on deported individuals without a criminal record. Illegal re-entry before 10 years is punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine or both, according to federal law.
Detroit News reporters Mark Hicks and Michael Gerstein contributed