A temporary home
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the last in a four-part series about Moises Carranza, an illegal Mexican immigrant whose emotional and convoluted journey took him through Fairplay and left him in a Denver hospital.
They live in a modest but comfortable three-bedroom house in a neighborhood full of people like them – hardworking Hispanic immigrants. But they no longer spend most of their days at home.
Rolando and Elsa Ibarra travel the majority of the week now that Rolando works as a trucker. He lost his job as an equipment operator for the city of Thornton earlier in the summer after he ended up taking too much time off work. He took the time, he said, primarily to help out the Carranza family, which has been living in the house now for about five months.
“I never let (my employer) know anything about it because I felt it was my responsibility just to work around it,” Ibarra said. “I didn’t really realize I was going to lose my job until the last day.”
Ibarra said he wanted to simply keep the matter as his private business, so he took out a loan on his house and bought the truck he now operates.
“Whatever sacrifice I’m doing it’s all worth it so they can move on with their lives, so I can help them out,” he said of the Carranza family. “And I can always find a job. They can’t find a job. They can’t help themselves. So I would rather take that sacrifice because I can find a job anywhere else. I know how to do a lot of stuff.”
Ibarra and his wife are deeply religious people who felt it was their duty to help out the Carranzas. In fact, they were at the El Bethel Church in Thornton, where Rolando was ushering, when they found out about the Carranzas, who belonged to a church parish in Mexico.
“She told me that there are people that needed our help (and asked) if we would be able to do that,” Ibarra said of his wife. “And I go, “Well, yeah, we can do that.’ So we got to know them. They brought them over to our house, and from there on we just took the responsibility of helping them out.”
“We aren’t paying anything,” Abraham Carranza said. “I know that it’s an expense. Simply to pay the food of four people, for one week, what is it? Here we use light, we use water, we use gas, we bathe ourselves, we eat – it’s not just some ordinary thing they are doing. They’ve never asked anything of us.”
Government is footing the bill
The Carranzas live in a kind of purgatory at the moment. Moises shuttles back and forth between the house and the hospital for frequent medical visits. Abraham and his wife have no work papers and assist their mother in taking care of Moises much of the time.
The medical bills from the ordeal are, at the very least, well into the high six figures, according to one person familiar with the case. According to both Jail Administrator Monte Gore and Moises himself, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) has ended up responsible for payment.
Moises said they had already paid the hospital $1 million.
Hospital officials did not return requests for comment on the financial details of Moises’ stay.
Moises is stronger and happier now. He speaks optimistically, and his manner is generally upbeat. He seems eager to find some resolution to the current state of affairs – both in terms of his immigration status and the legal action the family is currently pursuing in regards to his situation.
“I have to see what this country will leave me with – meaning a job, a residence, a clearer opportunity, a clearer path than my country,” he said. “The Mexican continues to be exploited there in Mexico. Therefore I wouldn’t have any reason to return. I know my country.
“Neither am I, shall we say, resigned or sad or my morale is low,” he continued. “On the contrary. I am fighting so that the leg doesn’t limit me. Because thank be to God I still have two arms, the other leg.”
Abraham says his fate is now tied to his brother’s.
“I’m in the same situation as my brother,” he said. “We came here with a purpose – to work, to improve ourselves economically and to help our family.
“Well now, unfortunately, this situation has changed, and we are at a point where we don’t know,” he said.
“It’s their country’
Abraham said much of the family’s fate lies in the hands of immigration officials.
“If the (BICE) says at this moment that we have to go to Mexico, then we have to go,” he said. “It’s their country, and we will have to obey.”
In the meantime, the Ibarras support them with a little help from the church on the side. The Carranza family set up a collection box in a nearby butcher’s store explaining Moises’ situation, and it has received some help there.
“I have to find a way to improve myself, to find work or find something,” Moises said. “Because imagine, to sit 24 or 12 or 14 hours here is criminal. It’s criminal to not do anything more than feel sick.”
Moises said it’s imperative for him to find work to pay for the prostheses he will have to use – one that must be changed every two years.
“I came here with a purpose, like any immigrant, (not just for) vacation,” he said.
He wants to find a job, to study and finally to learn the language.
“Thanks to God he gave me the opportunity to keep living,” he said. “And I’m going to find a good girl as well. Why not?”
Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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