Father of Six American Children Deported
“Alejandro D.” broke into tears, unable to answer a question about his family back in Fort Worth, Texas. The 40-year-old house-painter had just been deported to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and the words simply wouldn’t come.
Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, he was 18 when he first crossed into the United States, without documents, in 1995. He found work in Fort Worth as a painter, married “Claudia,” also from Mexico, and started a family. With five US-born children – ages 15, 10, 8, 7, and 4 – Alejandro and Claudia had a full and very active life.
Alejandro counted off on his fingers the stops he made each morning on the way to work: 8:00 a.m. at the elementary school, 8:30 a.m. at a kindergarten nearby, and 8:45 a.m. at the high school – then onward to a 9:00 a.m. painting job.
By the time he got off work, he said, the kids were home and helping their mother with chores and preparing dinner. Every night, they ate together around the dinner table. Alejandro took pride in being a good provider – in addition to supporting Claudia and the five kids under his roof, he had payments withdrawn from every paycheck to support another US-born child from an earlier relationship.
It was in 2013, Alejandro recalls, that he was first separated from his family. His ordeal began when Fort Worth police pulled him over for driving without a license plate on his car and found he didn’t have a drivers’ license (Texas doesn’t issue them to undocumented immigrants). The officer ran his name, and an arrest warrant appeared for non-payment of child support. Alejandro said that in 2012, the company for which he had been working had laid off all of their undocumented employees. According to him, there had been a lapse in support payments while he moved into a new job. After the lapse was discovered, he worked with a probation officer to make payments every month. When the Fort Worth officer pulled him over, Alejandro asked him to review the record, believing it would show he had been in compliance.
Instead, police turned him over to agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who deported him. Needing his family and knowing they needed him, he told us crossed the border a few days later, reunited with his family, and resumed his busy Fort Worth routine.
In June, Alejandro said, a neighbor in their apartment complex got angry that Alejandro’s children were making a racket while playing outside and had splashed water on his front steps. Alejandro says he tried to placate him, but the neighbor called the police and said that Alejandro had shoved him. Police arrested him and brought him to Tarrant County jail but he was not charged with any crime. (A criminal record check corroborates his claim no charges were brought.) But in the course of booking him, he said, they discovered he was undocumented and turned him over to ICE agents, who took him into custody as he left the jailhouse.
Three days later, a border once again separated Alejandro from his family.