Andres Magana Ortiz bought his one-way ticket back to Morelia, Mexico after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declined a petition to grant him legal status in the states.
Ortiz was smuggled across the US-Mexico border by human traffickers when he was 15 years old so he could reunite with his mother.
Hawaii News Now reports that Ortiz immigrated to Kona, Hawaii in 1989 to get work picking coffee. Within 10 years, Ortiz worked hard and saved enough money to buy his own farmland. Eventually, he oversaw 15 additional smaller farms.
He has become one of the most well-respected businessmen in Hawaii's coffee industry — he even worked with the US Department of Agriculture to control a destructive pest that was discovered on the island in 2010.
He has lived in the US for nearly 30 years and has built a life in Hawaii for his wife and three children, but he's been battling deportation orders for a while now.
According to The Washington Post, the DHS under the Obama administration began filing notices for his removal proceedings in 2011.
He was granted stay multiple times to secure legal status on the basis of his wife’s and children’s citizenship. But in mid-March of this year, "the federal government 'reversed its position.'"
"I never tried to hide it, always answered my phone when immigration called me and said come see us. I come in to each court on time. Everything, I tried to do all my best," Ortiz told Hawaii News Now.
Hawaii's Congressional Delegation has been vocal about Ortiz's good moral character, insisting he's an upstanding member of the community and he shouldn't be prioritized for deportation.
"Mr. Magana Ortiz poses no such threat to national security or public safety and therefore should not be a priority for removal. Rather, it is in our national interest for Mr. Magana Ortiz to remain in the United States where he can continue to work, pay taxes, and raise his family," senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz and representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa wrote.
Ortiz's lawyer appealed the order, and even federal judge Stephen Reinhardt called the decision to deport him "inhumane."
"President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the 'bad hombres.' The government decision in the immigration case shows that even the 'good hombres' are not safe," Reinhardt said.
Unfortunately, Reinhardt did not have the authority to delay or block the deportation. He added, "The government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family."
Sadly, Ortiz's children's fears have now become a reality as their father has left for Mexico — a place he barely knew as a child.
"I can't imagine having no dad with me," said his 12-year-old son, Hector. "My biggest fear is my family being separated," his 14-year-old daughter Paola added, before finding out their father had to leave.
And when it was time to go, it wasn't easy. "We said our goodbyes at home. My dad decided it was better for my brother and my sister to not go all the way to the airport," his 20-year-old daughter Victoria told Honolulu Star Advertiser.
"We don’t come in and take advantage of anything. We try to come in and make a better life, working hard and helping," Ortiz said.
He faces a 10-year bar on his return to the states. Once his daughter turns 21 in August, she will apply for an immigrant visa for her dad.