Undocumented immigrant Jorge Garcia and his family today spoke out on “The View” about his deportation to Mexico this week after living in the United States for 30 years.
“He was deported because he came into the country at 10 years old illegally,” his wife, Cindy Garcia, said. “We tried to fix the status and the system failed us. It's a broken immigration system, and it needs to be fixed.”
His family brought Garcia, now 39, to the United States illegally when he was 10 and he had since built a life for himself and his own family – Cindy, daughter Soleil, 25, and son Jorge, 12.
Jorge Garcia, who joined “The View” today remotely from Mexico City, where he’s staying with an aunt, said he had a message for President Donald Trump: “We're supposed to only deport people that are criminals and that's not what's going on. They're only basically hurting the economy and separating families just like mine.”
The Garcia family hired a lawyer in 2005 to aid Jorge’s journey to citizenship, his wife said today.
“We gave her money,” Cindy Garcia said. “She started the paperwork and … she never did anything.”
Shortly after the rocky start with the lawyer, Cindy Garcia recounted, she received this response from a judge: “He wrote back and said, ‘In 90 days you have to leave.’ We fought that.”
In 2011, 2012 and 2014, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) exercised “prosecutorial discretion,” allowing him to remain in the country.
And “Obama was in office so we were safe … until now,” she said.
But amid the Trump administration’s ramping up immigration arrests and deportations, ICE notified the family Nov. 20, 2017, that Jorge Garcia had to leave. He was going to be detained at that point, but ICE allowed him to stay with his family through the holidays, giving him no later than Jan. 15 to leave for Mexico.
So, on Monday, Jorge Garcia was removed pursuant to the judge's removal order, ICE said.
"As ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," ICE said in a statement.
ICE said it wasn't aware of any criminal record for Jorge Garcia.
“Thanksgiving was very sad. It was devastating because we knew that our nightmare was coming to life since 2005,” Cindy Garcia said of the dread the family experienced knowing they would have to say goodbye. “We knew he may have to leave but never wanted to face that fact.”
The family held back tears today as they remembered how hard they tried to stay steady through their anxiety about the approaching deportation.
“We couldn't show how we felt because we wanted to be strong," Cindy Garcia said. "When the day came, it was just devastating. We didn't want to let him go.
“Christmas was even worse. No Christmas tree, no Christmas lights. It was more that we were grieving,” she added. “It was a death and we knew the death was coming.”
Cindy Garcia urged viewers to call their representatives and advocate for the 2001 Dream Act, which has allowed some undocumented minors to remain in the country legally.
“That will help the people that are already here, living in the shadows, that are worried that they may be deported next,” Cindy Garcia said.
“It's very hard for the families, as you can see,” she said. “Separating families is not the thing to do. It takes a toll on the children and myself and my children are American citizens and people need to understand that.”
She also spoke about losing the family’s primary source of income by her husband’s deportation but, "With God's help and his strength, I will move forward until my husband finds a job. I will have to keep up two households, mine and his. But I believe with God's dream I would be able to do anything because he's giving me the power to speak up for everybody."
ABC News' Geneva Sands contributed to this report.