Carlos Leopoldo Guillen, known to his family and friends as Papi, was deported from the United States 15 years ago and had been separated from his entire family ever since. Papi, now almost 70 years old, has very serious health conditions and attempted to re-enter the U.S. to spend his final years with his family. Papi's family filed a claim against the U.S. and Ecuadoran governments before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and hundreds of people around the country spoke out to stop Papi's deportation. However, the Department of Homeland Security refused to make the humane decision to allow Papi to stay with his family. Below is a message from Papi's daughter to all of the people who supported her family and the thousands of other families who have been ripped apart because of our nation's unjust immigration laws.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my family's story and support our petition. Today I write you with the heartbreaking news that my Papi was deported to Ecuador on Friday morning. This is now the third time in my life I have had to watch my father taken away from our family when his only desire was to be with his loved ones. I can't even find the words that would best describe how much hurt and loss we are reliving as we struggle with this unnecessary suffering. What was the benefit of sending away this harmless elderly man? Who won this fight? Why are we spending energy and money on separating families?
As you can imagine, this tragedy has affected my family for almost our entire life. When my dad was first arrested I was able to carry on with life knowing that one day he would come home and we would continue our lives together. However, harsh and unfair immigration laws separated him even further by deporting him far away to a country he no longer recognized. After many missed birthdays, graduations and the birth of a grandson, I still continued with the hope that one day he would be able to come back. The reality is that our immigration laws are so severe that this too was impossible.
My story is a single tragedy among thousands of others. Every day 17 children are placed in state care and forced to live without their mothers and fathers because of inhumane immigration laws. I am the face of those children and although I have had many successes, the wounds are fresh and painful. I still seek justice and resolution for my family's separation 22 years later.
Please remember that we are a country of immigrants that founded this great nation. We are all here for "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". If we continue down this path of rampant deportation, we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of broken families and wounded adults. These children are our future citizens and they will demand answers and justice one day. Please remember that we are all humans.
My fight does not end here. For as long as my father lives and this injustice continues, I will not be complicit with this inhumanity. I will one day update you all with a photo of my family reunited--I am certain of that.
Please support immigration reform and be a voice for those hurt families. I am eternally grateful for your compassion and support.
Diana Guillen Wride
Diana Wride is a surgical physician assistant at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas. She was born and raised in Houston and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas Medical Branch.