tags: , Press Releases

Jean Guerrero Column Highlights Tragic Consequences of Broken Immigration System for One Delaware Family

Share This:

Washington, DC – Los Angeles Times columnist Jean Guerrero’s latest column, “Jose Cervantes left Delaware to see his dying father in Mexico. What happened changed his family’s fate,” is a powerful indictment of our broken immigration system, highlighting the tragedy of one family with ties to President Biden’s home state of Delaware. 

The following is a statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“In the President’s own backyard we see the cruel and senseless consequences of our broken immigration system. The story of Jose Federico Cervantes Aristaeven is one of a father, a husband, a provider whose life was unnecessarily lost. While the immigration debate is thought of in abstract terms of numbers or in the fearmongering of bad actors; Jose’s life offers a reminder about the real lives affected by the dysfunction of our out-of-date system. To avoid further tragedy, families like Jose’s who have been in the country for decades working and sustaining themselves and with U.S. citizen children deserve a path to legal status.”  

Read Jean Guerrero’s column, “Jose Cervantes left Delaware to see his dying father in Mexico. What happened changed his family’s fate,” and find key excerpts below:

“It was July 7, 2020, months into the pandemic, and it was Cervantes’ third attempt to reunite with his wife and four children in Delaware, where he had lived for two decades. He’d gone to Mexico in November 2019 to see his elderly father before he passed away. The plan had been to stay a short while, then return through the desert, but the pandemic had delayed him. He’d tried twice already, only to be caught and sent back by the border guards. He had no immigration papers and no legal path into the country.

…He kept walking in the heat and eventually came across a small bridge under a mostly abandoned road. He took shelter underneath. It was still hot, but there was shade. He called his wife on his Mexican cellphone and told her he was struggling to walk, falling every few steps, but would rest and keep going. He was two miles from Interstate 8, where he might seek help from drivers, but he didn’t want to risk detection.

I’ll fight to the death to make it back to you,” his wife, Reyna, recalled him saying. I met her this month in that fateful spot in the desert, where she shared with me the tragedy that would alter the fate of their family forever.” 

…On the morning of July 9, Reyna was in agony. She hadn’t heard from her husband. He wasn’t responding to her texts. From her job walking horses at a racetrack at 6 a.m. in Wilmington, Reyna called him. He picked up. She begged for news, but after a long silence, she heard only a slow and strange “Hola.”

Reyna broke into sobs. She knew he was in trouble. Jose was her best friend; she’d loved him since they’d met in Mexico when she was 16. They had matching “Cervantes” tattoos on their arms under their inked Zodiac symbols: he a Scorpio, she a Taurus. She cried and asked him questions. Finally, she heard a few slurred words: “I can’t walk. I can’t talk. I’m here, on top of the bridge. I’m waiting for somebody to give me a ride.

…Three years later, Reyna still stays in touch with the Armadillos, who periodically visit the site of Jose’s death to place flowers, Modelo Especial beers and other offerings at a memorial they made for him with a large wooden crucifix carved with his name. At the site, volunteers play Calibre 50’s “Te Volvería A Elegir,” which Reyna says she wants her husband to hear. “I’d choose you again,” the lyrics say in Spanish. One volunteer, Kari Frost, camped there one night to play guitar for Jose.”

…The border machinery had killed Jose and devastated his family. It was the kindness of the border volunteers that allowed Reyna to feel some measure of peace.”