San Diego

Father, Trying to Reunite With Family, Makes Final Effort to Cross Border

A man who left his family in Florida, where he'd been living illegally, to return to Mexico for a family emergency tried and failed to re-enter the U.S. Tuesday after asking officials to consider him for humanitarian parole.

Rafael Gaytan, a Mexican national, lived in Florida with his family for more than 10 years without legal permission. Three months ago, Gaytan had to leave the country to take care of his ailing parents and dying sister.

At the time, Gaytan would have been eligible for a permit as the parent of two American citizens under President Obama’s Executive Order, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), according to several non-profit humanitarian organizations helping him. The order would have given him temporary immigration status, but a federal judge issued an injunction this year preventing Gaytan and many others from obtaining that temporary legal status.

Gaytan has been unable to return to his family in Florida, but on Tuesday he decided to give it one last shot, with the help of the Border Angels of San Diego and Young American Dreamers organizations. 

With the help of his friend Bishop Dermot Rodgers and Daniel Barajas, executive director for the Young American Dreamers, Gaytan began the process of crossing into the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

“He’s clearly quite terrified right now,” said Rodgers, who guided Gaytan through part of the process. “He’s exhausted, he’s emotionally drained, his children are on the phone crying even as we speak. They just want to see him.”

Gaytan ask border officials for humanitarian patrol, which allows some people to cross the border for emergency reasons.

However, after more than two hours of interviews, officials turned Gaytan away and said the only way they would grant him humanitarian patrol would be if his children were on their death beds. 

Border Angels of San Diego’s Sara Gurling said his children are “shattered.”

Gurling said it is unclear whether he will attempt to cross the border again, or what his next move will be. He plans to discuss it with his family.

Supporters have been collecting signatures for a petition to help reunite him with his family. You can sign that petition by clicking here. 

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