Josue Saldivar says the love he has for his father is what keeps him strong through these tough emotional and financial times.
His dad, Saul, passed away on Valentine's Day after a months-long battle with cancer. Ever since Saul was admitted into a hospital in Albuquerque—where Josue's mom and younger sisters still live—Josue became the primary economic support for the family.
This warm, 25-year-old Dreamer is an active member of immigration rights advocacy groups like Mariposas Sin Fronteras
(Butterflies Without Frontiers), BorderLinks
and Scholarships A-Z
, an organization that helps undocumented students pay for college. He also works tutoring students living in the Tohono O’odham Nation.
The Saldivar's are originally from Agua Prieta, Sonora—a small town that borders Douglas, Arizona. They came to Tucson when Josue was 8. Josue and one of his sisters are DACA recipients—a program issued by President Barack Obama four years ago to grant young immigrants a work permit and relief from deportation. His mom is undocumented and the youngest sibling is a U.S. citizen.
“My dad sacrificed so much for me and my sisters,” Josue says. “He worked every week day, weekend, and I’d always see him come home with a smile on his face because he knew the reasons he was doing it.”
After Saul’s passing, Josue was left trying to figure out how to transport his dad to Tucson, purchase a cemetery plot and pay for funeral services—all which could add up to nearly $10,000.
A few days after Saul’s death, Josue launched an online fundraising campaign that within a week raised $5,300 of the approximately $10,000 needed. This past Sunday, BorderLinks hosted a Mexican lunch to also help with the cause.
A funeral home in Albuquerque said it’d cost around $1,000 to take care of preparations to fly Saul to Tucson—plus the cost of an airplane ticket. Once Saul is in Tucson, the funeral home here does the rest—roughly another $5,000 for the services and a casket. The cost of a cemetery plot ranges in the thousands, too. The Weekly
called three local funeral homes and they all had similar prices. Also, none really offered options for payment plans, except for one—Adair Funeral Home —which said half of the cost could be paid before the services, and the other half afterwards. But the spokesperson said that wasn't common.
While Josue sorts it all out, the support continues to pour in from friends and strangers. The campaign has gotten more than 600 shares on Facebook, and 109 contributors.
“No immigrant family similar to ours would have the resources or privilege to afford everything that happens after a loved one dies,” Josue says. His strength during this time is almost unbelievable, but so characteristic of Josue for those who know him well. “The love I feel for my father is what keeps me strong as I deal with this situation. My dad a spirit of determination and a lot of strength.”
More on Josue's odyssey will be out later this week. If you're interested in helping, visit Josue's Go Fund Me