At home in Mission Texas last Friday evening, 18 year old Joaquín Luna dressed up in a suit and tie, kissed his family goodbye as if he was going out and went to the bathroom, where he shot himself in the head with a small caliber handgun. Slowly, reports of his death have been coming out in local media in the Rio Grande Valley (South Texas) and posted in social media by Dreamer activists, including former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer winning undocumented journalist José Antonio Vargas but generally ignored by most mainstream media so far, except this story in the Washington Times, but his family is saying that he left letters where he talked about his desperation at his lack of legal immigration status and the difficulties of achieving his dream of being an architect.
Today, I talked by phone to Joaquín´s brother, 35 year old Diyer Mendoza who said that his little sibling was accidentally born in México while the mother was on a trip 18 years ago and that she and her family have lived in the Rio Grande Valley for at least 37 years. We spoke in Spanish and in the following audio piece you can hear Diyer talk about his brother´s death sending a message to politicians to “stop playing games and pass the Dream Act”. Listen: Here
He broke down during the conversation at the end, when he said he expected the death of his brother to be a message not just to politicians, but to other kids that they should not lose hope, because “there´s always a solution in life”.
Unfortunately, Diyer said, Joaquín was a very reserved kid who didn´t share his worries with his family.”He was going to graduate from high school this year, he wanted to be an architect, he was very smart, and very reserved, conservative, went to church and came back home, didn´t have time for girlfriends, what he wanted was to study and move forward”.
Below is the translation of the segment of my conversation with Diyer
I think he had a purpose, he wanted the Dream Act to pass, it needs to pass now. Politicians have to stop playing around and ignoring this issue…. They need to have a heart and give these student kids the opportunity to work, because they don´t come here to be criminals, they come here to be lawyers, nurses, doctors…maybe one of them could be an Einstein and they will not be able to because of their papers…I hope this warns kids that they must not lose hope and that there´s a solution for everything (sobbing).
From Arizona, activists like DeeDee Blasé, past President of the group Somos Republicans –republican and independent activists who are fed up with the republican hard line on immigration- and current President of the Tequila Party Movement, told me that they will continue beating the drum and pushing politicians to take responsibility for fixing the problem.
“We´re not gonna let this go quietly. I´m still pissed off about 2010 when the Dream Act was rejected by the Senate and I feel politicians on both sides of the political spectrum think Latinos are passive, we need to prove we are not, that we are alert and there´s gonna be consequences”, said Blasé. “My point is that we should get rid of those who didn´t vote for the Dream Act. We will vote for Joaquín Luna”.
Read more about the case later and tomorrow in my stories at La Opinión, en español.