Hours before President Donald Trump announced his decision to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, a program that shielded immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children from deportation, the body of a Mexico-born DACA-recipient was pulled from Cyprus Creek near Houston, Texas.
Alonso Guillen died trying to rescue Harvey flooding victims.
The 31-year-old DJ moved to Texas as a teenager but never became a U.S. citizen. Instead, he obtained a work permit and protection from immediate deportation under the DREAM Act introduced by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.
The “Dreamer” lived in Lufkin, Texas, and he, along with his friends, had borrowed a boat to save people stranded in the flood-ravaged region and his friends. However, their boat reportedly hit a bridge and capsized.
One of his friends managed to survive by clinging to a tree in rushing water, but Guillen and his friend Tomas Carreon Jr. did not make it. While Carreon’s body was recovered on Friday, Guillen's family found his body nearly two days later.
“I’ve lost a great son, you have no idea,” lamented Rita Ruiz de Guillen, Guillen's grieving mother, who is in Piedras Negras, Mexico. “I’m asking God to give me strength.”
Jesus Guillen, Guillen's father, told The Houston Chronicle he asked his son not to embark on the rescue mission, but he insisted because he wanted to help people.
While the heartbroken father is a permanent citizen, the heroic Dreamer’s mother is still waiting for legal status across the border. She also told the news outlet the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials refused to grant her a humanitarian visa so she could come to Houston for her son’s burial.
“When we are with God, there are no borders,” she said. “Man made borders on this earth.”
Carreon Jr., 25, was also born in a Mexico and moved to Texas with his family as a child. He and Guillen grew up together in the same neighborhood as undocumented immigrants.
“I told him not to go,” Carreon’s wife, Stefany Carreon, recalled. “I told him I had a bad feeling.”
Hurricane Harvey has killed at least 50 people, but Guillen and Carreon’s tragic yet heroic deaths serve as a reminder of the kind of people Trump wants to kick out of this country — the people who are willing to give their lives to help those in need.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Adrees Latif