A heartbroken Honduran father shared photos of the moment he was finally reunited with his teenage daughter in the US – after she hanged herself over his rejected asylum claims.
Heydi Gámez García, 13, fell into depression over President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration drive which kept her separated from dad Manuel Gámez for four years.
He had lived in the States as an undocumented migrant until June 2014 when he was forced to fly home to El Progreso, Honduras, following his father’s murder.
When Manuel’s mother died from diabetes the following year he made the decision to send Heydi to live with relatives in Long Island, New York, after deeming his homeland too dangerous.
She was granted asylum in June 2016 and awarded permanent residency, but when Manuel twice attempted to cross the border to join her he was arrested and sent back home.
So desperate was Heydi to see him again, she began teaching him English via video calls after quickly picking up the language.
Her father promised her he’d try once again to make his way back to her after her 13th birthday in March.
Manuel made it as far as Mexico, telling his daughter he was heading to New York and it would take a week to get there once he hit Houston.
But just like each time before, his path to Heydi was blocked and he was once again taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
‘It has been difficult to be away from her,’ Manuel told the Daily Mail.
‘As a father you always want to be with your children. I was hoping to be with her again.’
While languishing in a Texas holding cell Manuel received the devastating news that Heydi was found hanging from her bedroom closet by a phone-charging cable shortly after midnight on July 3.
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Last week, on July 13, Manuel was given special permission to travel to his daughter’s bedside.
‘I am very sad, really depressed,’ the distraught Honduran told the Mail.
‘The hardest moments are coming.’
He shared a collage of their tragically belated reunion on Facebook with the heart-breaking caption: ‘It will be difficult to accept your departure, my princess, with the hope that in heaven you will be a little angel of God and that you will give me strength when I can’t continue without you, my love.’
She is due to be laid to rest next Tuesday before Manuel turns himself back in.
The family’s lawyer Anibal Romero said one of the main reasons behind Heydi’s suicide attempt lay with the Trump administration’s immigration stance.
‘Words matter, tweets matter,’ Mr Romero told the newspaper.
‘When the president threatens to deport millions of people, it really causes anxiety, causes fear, especially in children who are afraid of losing their parents.
‘Politicians should be very careful with the words that are used. It doesn’t matter that it’s on social networks. Today it’s Heydi, tomorrow it will be someone else.’