September 04, 2017

Castro Requests DHS Approve U.S. Entry for Mother of Dreamer who Died Seeking to Rescue Hurricane Harvey Victims

Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, requesting the Agency permit U.S. entry for the mother of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who died while seeking to rescue Hurricane Harvey victims. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly denied U.S. entry to Rita Ruiz de Guillen, who attempted to come to Texas for her son Alonso Guillen’s funeral. Ms. Ruiz de Guillen currently lives in Piedras Negras, Mexico and is awaiting the approval of her application for legal status in the United States,

“Alonso Guillen put the needs of others above his own safety and died while trying to rescue people in need. His mother should be able to attend his funeral and see her beloved son one last time,” said Rep. Castro. “Alonso showed tremendous courage and heart when he put his life on the line to save hurricane victims. Our nation should show that same compassion to his family in their time of unthinkable grief.”

Alonso Guillen was a Dreamer living and working as a disc jokey in Lufkin, Texas, who traveled to the Houston area last week with two friends and a borrowed boat to help rescue flood survivors. Their boat capsized late in the night on Wednesday, August 30 as they attempted to reach people at an apartment complex in Spring, Texas. Alonso and one of his friends died as a result of the accident.

“Had Alonso not tragically passed away, he would have been one of the nearly 800,000 young people who will lose their protected status if President Trump ends the DACA program, as reports suggest he will,” added Rep. Castro. “Alonso came forward to gain DACA status, received a work permit, and had a job. Congress must pass legislation to protect Dreamers like him who have built lives in our nation and are contributing to our communities.”

In his letter, Congressman Castro requests DHS authorities work to grant Ms. Ruiz de Guillen an emergency appointment at the nearest U.S. Consulate to her residence in Mexico so that she can be let into the United States to attend her son Alonso’s funeral. Full text of Rep. Castro’s letter is included below.




September 4, 2017

The Honorable Elaine C. Duke

Acting Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20016

Dear Acting Secretary Duke:

I write amid reports that officials within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have denied Ms. Rita Ruiz de Guillen entry into the United States to bury her son, Alonso Guillen.  As you may know, Alonso Guillen traveled to Houston as a volunteer to help rescue Hurricane Harvey victims.  Alonso also happened to be a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who lived in Lufkin, Texas.   

Alonso sacrificed his life in an attempt to save the lives of many more.  He exemplified the true American spirit by putting the needs of others above his own.  It is tragic that he lost his life at such a young age, but it is now time for his body to be laid to rest and his mother should be by his side. 

I request that DHS authorities grant Ms. Ruiz de Guillen an emergency appointment at the nearest U.S. Consulate to her residence in Mexico to obtain a temporary visa so that she may attend her son’s funeral in the United States.  Her son died a hero and she deserves, as every mother does, to pay her respects and see him one final time. 

Please have your staff contact my office by September 7, 2017 to confirm receipt of this letter and to outline the course of action DHS plans to take to help Ms. Ruiz de Guillen. 


Joaquin Castro

Member of Congress