Family savors celebrating Christmas together, again

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo 

The Lara family – including Fernando and Gaby, along with their children, are pictured in front of their Christmas tree at their home in Matamoros, Mexico. The family previously lived in Ellsworth. Lara and the couple’s children voluntarily moved to Mexico in late August, following the deportation last spring of Fernando after years of struggling with America's immigration laws.

 

MATAMOROS, Mexico – It will be a very different Christmas this year for the Lara family.

Instead of grandparents, huge American meals, gifts on Christmas Day, along with snow and cold weather, there will be piñatas, tamales, gifts on Christmas Eve, and a cook-out on the patio.

Life is now very different for Gaby and Fernando Lara, formerly of Ellsworth, and their children Ulysses, 6, and Faith, 2, in Matamoros, Mexico.

"It's definitely been a big change," said Gaby Lara earlier this week. "It's a whole new world."

Lara and her children voluntarily moved to Mexico in late August, following the deportation last spring of Fernando after years of struggling with America's immigration laws.

Raised in northern Michigan since arriving from Mexico with their parents under work permits as children, both Gaby and Fernando are graduates of Elk Rapids High School and have lived their entire adult lives in the area.

But a traffic accident several years ago involving Fernando changed their future. That’s when immigration authorities were notified that he was not in possession of necessary paperwork required to allow him to remain in this country.

One of more than a million illegal aliens in this country, Fernando and Gaby are both "Dreamers" raised in the U.S. but with no legal pathway to become American citizens, as they were technically not legal immigrants but the children of immigrants who had entered the country to work.

Gaby was able to qualify and receive protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was instituted in 2012. However, because his problems with immigration officials had begun before then, Fernando was not protected.

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