Lynn Brezosky, My San Antonio, December 3, 2011
The recent suicide of an illegal immigrant fanned the flames of a controversial measure to legalize certain students who were sneaked into the country as children, prompting, among other things, a Friday morning ceremony in Los Angeles and a proclamation on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
But in the 11 pages of suicide notes that Hidalgo County investigators released to the family of Joaquin Luna on Friday, there’s not a single mention of immigration or of the failed federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, as was mistakenly reported by various news outlets.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said he could not release the notes, which an investigator found in a Bible, until the investigation confirmed the case indeed was a suicide.
“What really bothers me is that there’s somebody out there attempting to exploit this poor young man’s decision to commit suicide and try to politicize it with failure of the DREAM Act and immigration issues,” Treviño said.
Still, family members and supporters said Friday that they believe the pressures of his legal status was a contributing factor to the decision to take his life.
His oldest brother, Diyer Mendoza, said Luna was disappointed when the DREAM Act failed in Congress, as he was about immigration policy battles in Arizona and other states. He said Luna, a high school senior who planned to attend college, also was painfully aware that even with a degree, he wasn’t legal to work.
Mendoza told investigators Luna was growing increasingly despondent as he received letters from top colleges asking him to send documentation of citizenship.
He told local media the same thing. The story went viral, and many pro-immigration groups began using him as a symbol of why the DREAM Act should be passed.
U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa presented his “Urge Support for the DREAM Act-Honor the life of Joaquin Luna,” speech to Congress after speaking with family, said Hinojosa’s spokeswoman, Patricia Guillermo.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposed the DREAM Act, said that whatever the reasons for Luna’s decision, using it to try to change national policy designed to limit immigration was reprehensible.
“It ought to direct questions to the parents,” he said. “You brought your son to this country, you knew that he was going to be living here as an illegal alien . . . and yet you did it anyway.”