Brodner's Person of the Day: Mariano Lopez

| Fri Jul. 27, 2007 2:00 AM EDT

Mariano Lopez. He is a Mexican immigrant I met in one of the villages (called colonias) on the Texas side of the border for "In America," a story I did for Texas Monthly 2 years ago. He built a successful construction company from scratch, using his craft and entrepreneurial skills. I painted him building his own home.

Yesterday came word from Father Mike Seifert—who has devoted his life to working with and helping these communities near Brownsville—that Mr. Lopez is being deported and is now in prison. I saw in him, as I did all the hard working people of the colonias, the face of my grandfather who came to the U.S. in 1919 and opened a fruit stand in Brooklyn. The difference is he was met by the face of the Statue of Liberty. The image of America Mr. Lopez gets is the face of Lou Dobbs. Please seriously consider helping him.

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MARIANO LOPEZ FUND
SAN FELIPE DE JESUS CATHOLIC CHURCH
PO BOX 8093
BROWNSVILLE, TX
78526

From Father Mike:

Apparently he was building a house for some people in the Brownsville area. He was close to finishing the house when the people who had hired him asked Mr. Lopez for a loan—and cashed some checks that they had made out to him. Later, they refused to pay him. He stopped work on the house and they filed charges against him for breaking the contract. Upon which he was arrested and, whatever the outcome of the criminal trial, will be placed in deportation proceedings.

Mr. Lopez has been in jail for a month and a half and the family is 4 months behind on making the payments for their lot. Because they have that weird deal called "contract for deed," the man who sold them the lot can reclaim the lot (house and all) whenever they miss payments. No equity, no justice.