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Heartbroken and in pain, Manuel Gámez barely managed to find the strength to say goodbye to his 13-year-old daughter Heydi Gámez, bedridden at Cohen Children's Medical Center in Queens, who was left being brain-dead after she attempted to take her own life.
"I loved my daughter with all my heart," Gámez told Noticias Univision 41. "She is the reason why I tried to come to this country. To fight for her," expressed the man who tried several times to reunite with his daughter in the United States, 2,000 kilometers north of his native Honduras, and has now done so, but only to say a final goodbye.
Heydi Gamez Garcia, 13, tried to take her own life when her father was stopped at the border by immigration agents last June. It was the third time Manuel Gámez had attempted to enter the United States from Honduras, their home country.
For a long time, Heydi had been depressed because she wanted to see her father, according to Jessica Gámez, the girl's aunt, who found her on the verge of death locked in her room.
Manuel was in custody in Texas while Heydi was hospitalized with brain death at Cohen Children's Medical Center in Queens. This week, she was disconnected from life support.
When Heydi was two months old, she was abandoned by her mother. Then, at age 9, she entered the country without papers, escaping the gangs that killed her grandfather, who she found after he was attacked.
The father obtained a brief permit from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to travel to New York. "I read the Bible to her. I know she listened to me because her face changed," said the father in tears.
They didn't let him go free. He is being monitored by an electronic shackle, but at least he was able to accompany his daughter in her last hours. After a week, he will have to travel to Houston to define his fate before an immigration judge. He hopes ICE lets him stay with his family in New York a little while longer to mourn Heydi's death.
"This case has no logic considering that Manuel is eligible to seek asylum, and his family was granted asylum," Aníbal Romero, the father’s attorney, told Noticias Univision 41.
"This case also demonstrates how the U.S. immigration system is on the verge of collapse. Politicians in Washington are more concerned with protecting their political careers rather than solving this problem. Heydi's death cannot be in vain. Let's hope this is the beginning of a serious discussion because we have serious concerns that these cases may be repeated," Romero added.
Gámez reported that her daughter Heydi will be buried in a New York cemetery. "We are going to donate her organs so that she can live in other people. I don't want to remember her like that, in that bed, in a coma," he said in deep pain.
Remember that if you, or someone you know, is going through a crisis and is thinking about taking your own life, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline available in Spanish every day at any time. Phone: 1-800-273-8255.