Jorge Garcia has lived in the US since he was 10, has paid all his taxes since he first got a job, and doesn't even have so much as a traffic ticket to his name, his supporters say—but on Martin Luther King Day, the 39-year-old landscaper and father of two was deported to Mexico because he was here in the US illegally, the Detroit Free Press reports. His 30-year stay in the US came to an end at Detroit Metro Airport, where his wife, Cindy, 15-year-old daughter, and 12-year-old son (all US citizens) bid him a tearful goodbye as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents brought him through security to board the plane taking him to a now-unfamiliar place. Garcia had been brought here by an undocumented family member as a child (ABC News says it was an aunt), but he's too old now to qualify to stay in the US through the DACA program.
Although his case had made its way to immigration courts starting in 2009, he'd been given reprieves under the Obama administration. He even lobbied ICE agents this time around to let him stick around until new DACA rules, which might expand the age range, are possibly passed, but they weren't willing to do so. Garcia's wife, who says he may not be allowed back in the US for another 10 years, tells CNN "his case needs to be looked at individually," and that she's determined to keep his story in the news to help others in similar situations—something she has the luxury of doing without fear of her own deportation. "It affects 11 million other people, but at least I can come forward and tell my story because I am a US citizen and I do not have to hide in any shadows," she says.