SAN DIEGO — There's been an outpouring of support for a U.S. citizen living with his wife and three children in a Tijuana shelter. The family appeared last week in a News 8 special report, "Beyond the Border: US citizen in Tijuana faces long wait for American dream."
Phillip Caldwell said got the news Tuesday that the community had donated more than $1,500 to support his family’s efforts to live in the United States.
“Thank you everybody from San Diego and anyone who has helped us. My family and I very much appreciated it and we're very thankful,” said Caldwell.
The 40-year-old father and his three kids are all U.S. citizens, even though the children were born in Mexico. The family has lived for the past decade in Chiapas, Mexico. They left one month ago for safety reasons and migrated to Tijuana.
Four years ago, Caldwell lost his leg in a motorcycle accident and he now walks with a prosthesis. His wife, Dulce, must apply for a green card before she can come to the United States. Caldwell also needs passports for his family and an expensive DNA test for his son.
“With the DNA test I have to prove that my middle child is my son and then that will allow us to get birth certificates. We still have to come up with the funds to get the emergency passports to be able to cross the border,” Caldwell said.
The $1,500 was donated in the family’s name to Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego in Mission Gorge. Director of Refugee and Immigrant Services, Nadine Toppozada, said people from all over the country have contacted the agency wanting to help.
“People have called to support and donate. We've had people ask, if they sponsored him and his family would the process move any faster? So, it's just been an incredible response,” Toppozada said.
Toppozada said the wait time for a green card is the same, whether or not the family has a sponsor in the United States. The current wait time is a year and a half for the spouse of a U.S. citizen to get a green card and enter legally into the United States.
“Unfortunately, we can't speed up the government process. We are offering our services completely pro-bono. The community support is enabling them to pay all the hefty government fees but speeding up the process is something that's out of everybody's control,” Toppozada explained.
Caldwell is now in Fresno with his father trying to set up a place for the family to live if and when they get approval from the U.S. government.
He had this message for the community:
“I want to say thank you very much and God bless you, thank you. That’s all, thank you,” he said.