John MacCormack, San Antonio Express-News, Sept. 4
Santiago “Jimmy” Gallegos, 59, an undocumented immigrant with dementia who has run up a $40,000 bill at a Hill Country nursing home since December, will likely soon be deported to Mexico.
“We’re going to take him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Del Rio, and they are going to take him to the Mexican Consulate. We’re waiting for the call,” said Tamara Scotch, who operates the Cedar Hills Geriatric Center in Camp Wood.
Gallegos, who suffers from liver and kidney problems, came to Cedar Hills from a nursing home in San Antonio late last year. But it was months before Scotch figured out that he was not eligible for Medicaid benefits.
Among his unpaid bills is one for about $18,000 for drugs.
In addition to being deported several times from El Paso, most recently in November, Gallegos apparently has a lengthy criminal record, Scotch said.
“We figured there was more to him than a lovable, demented old man, but we didn’t expect this much. His criminal record goes back to 1964,” Scotch said.
“I don’t know if all those names are him or if he’s done all that stuff, but there are DWIs, stealing vehicles, drugs and the one that really got me was grave-robbing,” she said.
Among the aliases appearing on his record is “Stimpe.”
Gallegos is very well-liked at Cedar Hills by both staff members and many of the 60-some residents. News of his impending deportation has disturbed many there.
“Everyone is saying let’s protest. Let’s lock the doors. The staff is extremely upset. They are trying to figure out a way to keep him. And the residents want to chip in what little money they have so he can stay,” said Paulette Wall, the office manager.