Back in March, a couple who were the parents of six children died in a car crash while trying to flee immigration agents. Now, their orphaned kids just lost the closest relative they had left.
According to the United Farm Workers Foundation (UFW), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained the children’s uncle, Celestino Hilario Garcia, on Wednesday.
Apparently, this is the man they were after all along when they encountered now-deceased Santos Hilario Garcia and his wife, Marcelina Garcia Profecto, back in March.
"Still grieving the tragic deaths of their farm worker parents ... the six children of Santos Hilario Garcia and Marcelina Garcia Porfecto were dealt a new blow when ICE agents deliberately picked up their closest remaining family member, their uncle Celestino Hilario Garcia, at the Delano apartment building where both families live," said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres in a statement.
She added: "ICE agents specifically targeted Celestino, also a farm worker, who has now been deported to Mexico, leaving behind a wife and four young children."
On Thursday, ICE issued a statement defending their decision, maintaining that Celestino was in the country illegally and authorities had given him several chances to return to Mexico voluntarily between 2002 and 2009.
"In April 2009, an immigration judge issued him a final order of removal, and ICE removed him to Mexico twice, once in April 2009 and again in May 2009. He has three criminal convictions for driving under the influence," ICE stated.
However, in light of the fatal crash that killed the kids’ parents, Torres argued ICE’s decision to continue going after the uncle and ultimately deporting him was cruel.
"ICE already contributed to the deaths of the parents of these six children who are now orphans," she said in a statement. "Can ICE be more callous in visiting even greater anguish upon this family that has already suffered so much? How much crueler can Donald Trump’s immigration policies become? How many more casualties can be produced by the Trump administration's targeting of hardworking immigrant farm workers who sacrifice to feed all Americans?"
Torres certainly makes a valid point. The family is still grappling with the tragic loss of their parents and now they are losing "the closest thing that they saw as a father figure," according to UFW Foundation spokeswoman Leydy Rangel. Immigration officials are putting this family through one traumatic experience after another, and it's apparent that they are completely apathetic to their suffering.
While his three DUI charges are serious, Celestino hasn't committed any violent or heinous crimes. He's also built a stable life as a farm worker, father, and husband, and that should count for something. Alas, perhaps it would only make a difference in the government's eyes if he was from Norway as opposed to Mexico.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Mike Blake