LANSING - The wife of a Lincoln Park man who was deported last week after living in the U.S. for 30 years made it clear Sunday on the steps of the state Capitol that she's willing to fight for his return.
Cindy Garcia encouraged the thousands who attended the 2018 Women's March Michigan to join her and hold elected officials accountable for immigration policies she said have victimized and failed her family and others.
Garcia's husband, Jorge, was deported to Mexico on Jan. 15. He lived in the U.S. for 30 years and was brought to the country by undocumented family members at the age of 10. A video of him at Detroit Metropolitan Airport saying goodbye to his family before he left has gone viral across the country.
Jorge Garcia, 39, of Lincoln Park, hugs his wife and two kids before being escorted by ICE agents to be deported to Mexico, on Jan. 15, 2018, at Detroit Metro Airport. Erik Shelley
"President, you said that the criminals would have to be deported," Cindy Garcia said in remarks addressed to President Donald Trump. "What happened to my husband? You are hurting the economy and separating families like my children."
Cindy Garcia said the only crime her husband committed was at 10 years old when he was brought to the U.S. by the undocumented family members. She said her family tried for years to go through the process to have her husband become a legal U.S. citizen before he was deported.
Cindy Garcia, 45, encouraged all attendees of the march to contact their elected officials at the state and federal levels and push for immigration policy reform.
The Detroit Free Press reported Sunday that Jorge Garcia, 39, is one year too old to qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The federal program allows children of undocumented immigrants to stay legally in the U.S.
A crowd cheers Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, during 2018 Women's March Michigan at the State Capitol in downtown Lansing. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal
"This is his country — not Mexico," Cindy Garcia said Sunday before the march's attendees.
Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress are debating whether to keep DACA and allow protection for children of undocumented immigrants.
Crowds with causes
Other topics, in addition to immigration, that were discussed and promoted at the march included voter registration, gun violence protection, abortion, gender equity, civil rights and environmental activism.
Keri Hettinger, 21, originally of Joliet, Illinois, is a senior at Olivet (Mich.) College and was impressed with the passion shared among the crowd of thousands.
Hettinger identifies as pansexual genderqueer and is a senior goalkeeper for Olivet's women's lacrosse team. Hettinger doesn't identify with a specific gender.
"I just wanted to feel what all of it is," Hettinger said about the march experience.
For many, the march in downtown Lansing was a family affair.
Jeanna Kaye, 39, of Lapeer, felt inspired to bring her son, Zephyr Stephen, 10.
The fifth-grader stood to the right of the Capitol stairs and proudly held up the sign he made that stated "White Supremacy is Terrorism." The sign included the image of a black fist.
Kaye attended the march in Lansing last year and said it was important to return to show women are still fighting for equal rights.
"I try to bring my kids to as much as I can," Kaye said. "It's important to see how democracy works, to have voice and have them form their own opinions."
Zephyr said he's concerned not only about racism, but sexism he finds prevalent around him.
"I feel like women have been disrespected for so long and that most people don't get in trouble for it," Zephyr said. "If people aren't getting the fairness they deserved or if someone is getting more than someone else, then it's not right."
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