On Saturday morning Lidiane Carmo woke up in Florida, where she was attending a church conference with her father, mother, and sister. Carmo was the youngest in her family, and they had traveled to Florida with her pastor father, her aunt, uncle and cousins as well as several other other church members.
On Sunday morning, Lidiane woke up in a Florida hospital with broken bones and internal injuries after the van they were traveling in was involved in Sunday's horrendous highway pileup on I-75 near Gainesville, Florida. Her father, mother, sister, uncle, aunt and cousin were killed. She is the sole survivor in her immediate family.
Lidiane's parents came to the United States from Brazil 12 years ago, bringing five-year old Letiticia and three-year old Lidiane with them. They had legal visas which have since expired.
Lidiane is now an orphan. She has no health insurance. She has no legal status to remain in this country. And she has no family beyond those remaining members of her father's church. She is the sole survivor.
If we had a DREAM Act in place, Lidiane could petition for citizenship here since she entered the country legally. But we don't, and because of Republicans' insane need to pander to bigots and racists, we're unlikely to see it without a completely different Congress.
I'm writing about Lidiane because she puts a very human face on what they're doing when they block the DREAM Act. I wonder if any of these crazy Republican candidates could gaze into her frightened, hurting eyes, and tell her she has to go back to a country she doesn't even know. I think they could, and that should concern us all.
Congress forced a clause into the Affordable Care Act which excluded undocumented immigrants from coverage. The exclusion wasn't simply from federal funds for subsidies. They are barred from purchasing insurance on the state-based exchanges and the national exchange. Barred. Even if they pay with their own funds. Barred.
Today a 15-year old child is in a hospital in Florida, suffering from severe injuries, bereft of her family, in Rick Scott's state. What will become of her?
As for Lidiane's status, one expert had reassurance for her friends and surviving relatives.
Charles Kuck, an Atlanta immigration attorney, told the AJC that Lidiane would not be deported because of a federal law granting special status to juveniles. Lidiane can become a ward of the state and be issued a green card, allowing her to stay, Kuck said.
"This child will be fine," Kuck said. "She's clearly an orphan at this moment."
But the Brazilian consulate was not as reassuring:
Yes, they really do. I wonder. Would Ron Paul tell this family to rely on charity? Would Mitt Romney tell this family to rely on charity? Would Newt Gingrich summon the neighborhood council to testify to Lidiane's character? Oh wait. She hasn't been here long enough.
At the church Tuesday night, a representative from the Brazilian Consulate in Atlanta addressed crash survivors and others in the congregation.
"I want to give you my love and our support," Ana Claudia Rodrigues, deputy consul general for the consulate, said through a translator.
But when crash victims asked about help, Rodrigues said she could only convey their concerns to the Brazilian government. Immigration issues are not up to the consulate, Rodrigues said, but the U.S. government.
"She didn't answer any of our questions," Weberson Barbosa, a crash survivor still on crutches, said Tuesday night. "We need someone to really view our pain and take action."
Something is really broken in a country where a 15-year old child can suffer like this while politicians preach family values and American exceptionalism. Really broken.