Family forced out of U.S. because of illegal immigration has help to settle in Calgary

posted on May 6, 2019

By Calgary CTV News |

A family who is starting over their lives in Calgary got some unexpected help from another close-knit family who had to overcome some very similar challenges of their own.

The Gutierrez family, Manuel and Jilixza, along with their four children only arrived in Calgary last week after they had been separated by President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration about two years ago.

Manuel originally moved to the United States from Mexico in 2001, met his wife and raised a family in peace until 2017, when he was sent back to his home country because he never got his papers.

He was separated from his family as a result and was only reunited with them this past week.

“It’s not alright to be separated from my family.” Manuel says. “That part of me needs to stay together.”

Being separated from her husband was very difficult for Jilixza too.

“With all the immigration stuff, you feel bad because why does it have to be this way? I never thought it was going to happen to us.”

The family began to fight hard to reunite their family and saw coming to Canada as their one hope to be together again.

Manuel says he chose Canada as a new home for his family because he thought it would be a “good place to start again.”

“Mexico is not a good safe place for my family and me,” he says. “Canada is a big place and can give you a lot of opportunities. My son and daughters can go to college.”

When Manuel and Jilixza first arrived, they had nothing but a few hastily packed suitcases, but they soon found support in another family who went through a similar transition.

Reema Qaddour arrived in Calgary in February 2016 from Damascus, Syria to escape the violence of the war. She says she was very anxious when she arrived.

“I was too nervous and I was scared about my family because I didn’t know about Canada.”

Qaddour says it was difficult to make a change for her, but her children have benefits.

“The language is still difficult for me, but my children are still doing well.”

She met the Gutierrezes through the Calgary Immigrant Support Society and wanted to do her part to help them out in the same way her family got help when they moved here.

“They help me to start a new life here in Calgary,” she says.

Manuel says the Qaddours are good people for giving them support, especially when they have so little themselves.

“It’s so wonderful and I’m grateful for that,” Manuel says. “They have a little bit, but they share with you. I’m happy with that. That’s great people.”

As a result, Qaddour is working to help collect donations for the Gutierrezes to help them build their life here.

“They need something to start life here in Calgary. They don’t have anything,” she says. “They need help and I can’t say somebody needs help and not give them my hand.”

Both families say life in Canada still isn’t without hardship, but at least here they know they will always have a future.

You can find more information on how to help the Gutierrezes out by contacting the Calgary Immigrant Support Society on Facebook.

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