A Loyola University medical student fears her father may not see her graduate — because he is set to be deported back to Guatemala next week.
“We had always hoped this would not happen, but at the end of the day, you kind of live with this possibility at the back of your mind and holding yourself strong in case it does happen,” said Belsy Garcia, who is in her third year at Stritch School of Medicine.
Garcia’s father, Felix Garcia, came to the United States in 1995 and sought asylum. Belsy Garcia was only 7 at the time. She said her father was fleeing persecution for being a political activist back in his home country. Her father was denied political asylum in the United States, but, until now, has managed to avoid deportation.
The Garcia family lives in Georgia. Felix Garcia, 51, was arrested Jan. 23 because he was “illegally present in the U.S. on immigration violations,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He is being held in the Stewart Federal Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., about 150 miles south of Atlanta, his daughter said. She visited her father last week. She could not hug him, she said, because they were separated by glass. He’d lost weight. He was sleeping on a bunk in a cell with another detainee, she said.
“He doesn’t like to sit idle. He wants to get out and doing something,” his daughter said.
Belsy Garcia, who is herself a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, says she has just about run out of options to stop her father’s deportation — although she planned to speak to the family attorney later Thursday.
“We basically have one weekend left,” said Garcia, who plans to graduate next spring.