Manuel Gámez, the Honduran dad of a teenage immigrant who died after a suicide attempt this month, has been granted a 30-day extension by immigration officials to remain in the New York area with family, an attorney for the father said Thursday.
Gámez attempted in early June to cross illegally into the United States from Mexico and was detained, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
When his daughter, who had asylum in the United States, was hospitalized after a suicide attempt, immigration officials released Gámez from a Houston detention center on a 14-day humanitarian parole, according to an order from ICE. He was due to return to Texas on Saturday to face deportation.
Attorney Anibal Romero said the 30-day extension will give his lawyers more time to find a way that he can stay in the United States permanently.
At a news conference Friday, Romero said Gámez’s immigration case was transferred from Texas to New York and he planned to prepare asylum application for his client.
“I hope this case serves to show people that we only want to protect our families,” Gámez told reporters. “Now I am seeking asylum with a broken heart.”
Gámez, 34, lived in New York for about eight years while his children remained with his parents in his home country until he returned home in 2014 over safety concerns for his family.
He said he was forced to return to Honduras after MS-13 members, angered over his father’s refusal to make extortion payments they called “war taxes,” shot and killed the 59-year-old man in the street. With the health of Gámez’s mother rapidly deteriorating, he said he worried about who would look after Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.
The following year he sent Heydi to the United States, followed by Zoila. Gámez sister Jessica also settled in New York.
Gámez has repeatedly been rebuffed by immigration authorities on his asylum claims and has three times been apprehended at the US-Mexico border. He had not seen his daughter in four years before going to her bedside at a hospital.
Heydi, 13, had grown despondent over not seeing her father, her family said.
Heydi was declared brain dead after attempting to hang herself and was taken off life support last week. She died shortly thereafter, her family said.
She was laid to rest in Bayside, New York, earlier this week.
Gámez has said his life is at risk in Honduras and he is hopeful US officials will be able to see that he can’t continue living there.