WASHINGTON – Mexican Alonso Guillen didn’t listen to his father’s warning, setting out in a boat after Hurricane Harvey to rescue storm victims in Texas, a state he considered to be his home despite not having legal residence in the US.
Guillen, 31, died in a boat accident while attempting to aid storm victims.
The young man has become a symbol of the heroism of DREAMers – young undocumented foreigners who were brought to the US as children – who have staved off deportation thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The young man disappeared on Aug. 30 and his body was found on Sept. 3.
While the family was searching for him, President Donald Trump announced his decision to eliminate DACA, giving Congress six months – until March 5, 2018 – to clarify the situation of the 800,000 DREAMers who have benefitted from the program implemented by former President Barack Obama by executive order in 2012.
“My heart is broken, but the fight is going strong,” Democratic lawmaker Sheila Jackson Lee – who represents a Texas district including a good part of Houston, one of the cities hardest hit by Harvey and with a population that is 36 percent Hispanic – told EFE.
With a photo of Guillen fastened to her chest and a US flag in her hand, Jackson Lee criticized Trump’s decision and the comments he made against DREAMers, whom he accused of stealing jobs from Americans.
“Alonso was a DREAMer, but he was also a hero,” the lawmaker noted, adding that he saved people’s lives and represents the DREAMers who are contributing, who love the US and are patriots.
“We’re going to fight for them,” she promised.
Trump gave Congress six months to find a solution for DACA, but it is divided among Democrats who want to regularize the DREAMers’ immigration status and a large part of the Republicans, who are conditioning their help in saving DACA to obtaining funding to strengthen security along the border and build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Alonso’s father, Jesus Guillen warned his son of the danger of venturing out in the storm and asked him to stay at his home in Lufkin, Texas, instead of going with a group of Houston friends in boats to try and rescue people trapped by Harvey’s rising waters.
But on Aug. 29 Alonso left his radio host job early and traveled the 200 kilometers (125 miles) to Spring, near Houston where he and his friends took five boats and walkie-talkies and set out to look for Harvey survivors.
That same night, Guillen and two of his friends were en route to an apartment complex when their boat hit a bridge that had collapsed due to flooding. Guillen and one of his friends, Tomas Carreon, 25, died in the mishap, although the third man in the group was found alive days later holding onto a tree, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Guillen – one of more than 70 people to die as a result of Hurricane Harvey – was born in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras and came to Lufkin without papers when he was a teenager. The DACA program allowed him to find work as a radio host and disk jockey.