His name was Alonso Guillén. He died a hero. Last week, he headed south from his home in Lufkin, Texas, with a borrowed boat, insisting he wanted to help rescue flood survivors. A week ago, last Wednesday, Alonso was helping to rescue those trapped by floodwaters in the Houston area when his boat hit an Interstate 45 bridge and capsized. One of the two friends with Alonso was able to cling to a tree until he was rescued, but Alonso and his friend Tomas Carreon both died.
On Friday, searchers found the body of Tomas Carreon. On Sunday, relatives finally found Alonso Guillén’s body. Alonso Guillén was 31 years old, Tomas Carreon was 25. Mr. Carreon had three young children. Mr. Guillén’s mother, Ruiz de Guillén, lives in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and was initially denied entry into the U.S. once she learned of his death. According to the Washington Post, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol eventually worked with the Mexican Consulate to reach an agreement to allow Ms. Guillén to enter the U.S. in order to attend her son’s funeral.
Alonso Guillén was a Dreamer, having entered the U.S. with his parents when he was 15 years of age. Tomas Carreon was also a Dreamer until his marriage, which gave him permanent resident status. Dreamers are those who came to the U.S. as children and are temporarily protected from deportation by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Alonso’s family has mixed immigration status and is divided by the border. His mother, a Mexican national, still lives in Piedras Negras, Mexico, with one of his brothers. His father is a legal resident, and his brother Jesus is a U.S. citizen. Alonso had a driver’s license, a career as a radio DJ, and owned a home. He had no criminal background, had never been arrested for so much as spitting on the sidewalk. According to friends, family and coworkers, he was an all-around good guy.
“He worked hard at everything he did and made life a little more enjoyable for everyone around him,” the radio station Y-100 wrote in a Facebook tribute. “A truly selfless man, he spent the last hours of his life helping others in a time of need.” Alonso’s radio name was “DJ Ocho”, a throwback to his early days when he found it difficult to say his name, Alonso, and called himself Ocho instead. He was known for his generosity in the Lufkin community. If a friend or neighbor needed anything — a wheelchair, money for a surgery, a car fix — he would lend a helping hand, using his reach through his radio show to rally support for those in need. He worked as a disc jockey at dance clubs on weekends, but he did not drink or smoke.
This is the man who would have lost his driver’s license, his job, his home and likely have been deported within the next six months, since the Idiot-in-Chief in the White House decided yesterday to rescind Obama’s 2012 DACA legislation. This is the man that at least some portion of Trump’s base think are out to take their jobs. This is a man who represents that group Trump referred to as “murderers and rapists”. This man believed in the U.S. — it was his country too.
I will have more to say about DACA in the coming weeks, but this post is a tribute to Mr. Alonso Guillén and Mr. Tomas Carreon … nothing more.
Two good men died doing what they believed in – helping people in need. These two men, like many others, are heroes and deserve our respect. R.I.P. Mr. Tomas Carreon and Mr. Alonso Guillén. Your courage, bravery and good works will not be forgotten.