September 2008, Volume 8, Number 1


One Family’s Story


The incident was powerful because it is unremarkable. Two brothers, both MDC students, were separated from their parents and grandmother when the family elders were deported to their native Colombia. The story appeared in newspapers and on television, and struck a chord with South Florida residents, more than half of whom were born outside of the United States.

The Gómez family arrived in the U.S. on a tourist visa in 1991, when brothers Juan and Alex were toddlers. They stayed and built a small catering company. They eventually filed an asylum petition that was denied more than a decade later, leading to their deportation order in 2003.

A judge reiterated that order in July 2007, but a passionate lobbying campaign by the brother’s friends and classmates garnered the backing of several South Florida lawmakers who helped the brothers get a temporary stay of deportation.

With their parents gone, Juan and Alex looked for work to support themselves while they continue their studies. Juan, the younger of the two, is in The Honors College.

Their story had national resonance. “The Gómez brothers became public faces for hundreds of thousands students nationwide who are illegal immigrants and could benefit if Congress adopted legislation to give them legal status,” reported The New York Times.

On the same day that Juan and Alex Gómez were separated from their parents, students attended a rally at Wolfson Campus to protest the failure of the DREAM Act, a bill aimed at allowing undocumented students the opportunity to apply for citizenship after two years of college or military service.

Felipe Matos, president of the Wolfson Campus Student Government Association and student representative to the MDC District Board of Trustees, pledged to continue campaigning for the issue.

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