It was late last year when I first shared the story of “Miguel”, an undocumented Mexican immigrant.
Like so many others from that tormented land, he came here to find a better future for himself and for his family back home in a small village near Mexico City.
He spent about 10 years in Nevada where he learned to speak English fluently while acquiring a wide range of construction skills.
Somehow, although undocumented, he secured a driver’s license in his own legal name and a registration number with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service that allowed him to pay federal income taxes.
He was in the U.S. illegally but he voluntarily paid income tax because he appreciated the fact that he could earn more in a month here than his relatives in Mexico could earn in a year.
His friends said he never failed to send money home each week to his impoverished family.
He spent nearly four years in Kentucky and built an excellent reputation with employers who praised his work ethic, honesty and dependability.
He developed a relationship with a single mother of three small kids who apparently loved him as much as he loved them.
But a personal dispute led the girlfriend to notify local police who contacted U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
That agency housed him in a couple of county jails before shipping him to Chicago. From there he was transported to the Mexican border and then left on a street corner in a small town on the Mexican side.
I neglected to tell you earlier that he literally was jailed for being too honest. After being arrested on a traffic charge, he was bailed out by friends but didn’t have enough money to pay all of the $50 booking fee at the Rowan County Detention Center.
When he returned the following morning to pay the remaining $8, he was arrested at the jail because the vindictive ex-girlfriend had blown the whistle on his immigration status the previous night.
However, I’m pleased to report that Miguel’s life story has taken a positive turn since his departure from Morehead, Ky.
He used his savings from working in the U.S. to build a new home for his family in Mexico. He is happy to be reunited with his son.
Miguel dreams of eventually returning legally to the U.S. with his family.
I hope he makes it. He will be a great American.
Keith Kappes is a columnist for CNHI News Service.