BY ISN STAFF | March 21, 2018
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the scheduled deportation of Felix Garcia which is April 4, 2018.
This evening, the campus of Loyola University Chicago will buzz with excitement as the school’s basketball team takes on the University of Nevada in the 2018 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. However, one student will not share in her classmates’ enthusiasm, with the athletic success of her school overshadowed by the fact that her father is sitting in a federal detention center awaiting deportation, which has been scheduled for April 4, 2018.
Belsy Garcia Manrique, a DACA recipient, is an aspiring physician studying at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. Upon graduation, her hope is to return to her hometown in Georgia where she can put her medical skills to use with underserved populations.In 1995, Felix Garcia came to the U.S. from Guatemala seeking asylum. Upon arrival in the U.S., without knowledge of the English language and with no legal representation, he stood trial with a federal judge and was ordered deported, but did not leave the country. He taught himself English with a Spanish-to-English dictionary and obtained his GED followed by an accounting diploma. By 2009, Garcia was working at a carpet factory in the U.S. when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began an investigation into the company, taking information on all undocumented employees. Garcia cooperated with the investigation and was not deemed a priority for deportation under the Obama administration.
Garcia was permitted to stay in the U.S. with his family with the agreement that he would annually both check in with ICE and file a Stay of Deportation, which until this year was approved. During a recent routine check-in, Garcia was detained and his Stay of Deportation was denied, despite having no criminal record. He is currently awaiting deportation in Stewart Detention Center in rural Georgia. His deportation, scheduled for April 4, 2018, will separate him both from Belsy and his two other daughters, all living in the U.S.
“My father is not a criminal. He is a hard-working man who aspired to provide for his family, contribute back to his community, and help see his three daughters graduate from college,” shared Belsy Garcia Manrique. “My education and my future in this country will be disrupted if my father is deported in the upcoming weeks. Our story is an example of immigrants being assets to the United States, if given a chance, and contributing to a greater societal good. That is why I implore the federal government to release my father from detention, stop his deportation, and allow my family to continue to pursue the American Dream.”
“At the core of our Catholic faith is the value of family unity,” says Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Belsy and her sisters need their father Felix. Our country too is built on the idea that families are the core of society. Our lawmakers and the president need to find long-term solutions to our immigration system that are humane and comprehensive. In the meantime, taking fathers away from their children does not help anyone — we need to stand with Belsy, her sisters, and Felix, and with all family members facing deportation.”
Click HERE Stand in solidarity with Belsy and Felix by signing on to a letter to the director of the Atlanta regional office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).