The Golden Cage: Losing a Loved One and Never Saying Goodbye

Being an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. is like living in a golden cage
The Golden Cage: Losing a Loved One and Never Saying Goodbye
Juan (Brandon) y Chauk (Rodolfo) viajando sobre el tren "La Bestia".

Javier is the owner of a thriving business that imports clothes even to South America, but since he is undocumented, he has not set foot in his beloved Guerrero in 26 years.

Last year, he faced one of the worse situations that Latino immigrants without legal status in the United States face: his father died and he could not travel in order to give him his final farewell.

“It affected me a lot that my father had died and I was not there with him”, he says with sad face. He does not want to reveal his last name to avoid interference with a pending migratory process.

“I then decided to hold it, like we all do. I am not the only one, we are thousands of people who lose a love one and cannot return to our countries”, says 43 year-old Javier in the alley where his business is located in the Fashion District in downtown Los Angeles.

They Did Not Benefit With the Amnesty

Around 2.3 million undocumented people (21% overall) have lived in this country for 20 years or more, according to a Pew Center analysis. They are those who arrived to the U.S.A., shortly after the migratory amnesty that was enacted in 1986, and did not have more opportunities to legalize themselves.

Javier migrated four years after the amnesty. He dropped out college in Guerrero to come to work to the U.S.A. and to support his family economically. His family lost almost everything due to different embargoes to their properties.

His mother lived here for a while, but she preferred the country life and returned to Mexico. Due to diabetes and the ailments of old age, she has not come to visit her son in 15 years.

At the moment, this man started the defense of a deportation process against him, whose details are not published to avoid affecting the proceeding.

“What I ask my God it is to grant me the papers to immediately leave to see my mother. She is very ill; she has diabetes and cannot walk well.”

Jaime is a clothes business owner in the Alleys of Los Angeles. (Photo Aurelia Ventura/La Opinion)

A Drama

His lawyer, Jessica Domínguez, says that Javier’s case reflects a part of the undocumented people’s drama.

“They live in one `Golden Cage’ because they can support their children, but emotionally they have that desire of not feeling complete when they are not able to leave,” she says.

Javier’s business generates jobs, an example of that the Latinos’ labor is essential.

“One comes to this country with the desire to work, so that the relatives who live there are fine,” he said.

As a child, Javier polished shoes to the American tourists in the beaches of Zihuatanejo, in the state of Guerrero. Now one of his greater yearnings is to take a vacation next to his mother in his hometown.

“At some future date I want to enjoy what I could not do when I lived there,” he says.