It was 4 a.m., a few days after Christmas, when the Gonzalez children last saw their father.
They had grabbed hold of his suitcase in the living room, crying and begging him to stay.
But Marco Gonzalez was facing a deportation order — and he complied. He left for Guatemala after 20 years of living in the U.S. — a place where he had raised five American-born children, bought and fixed up a modest two-story house in Detroit and worked as a pool builder for more than a decade.
But a bad check from 15 years ago cost him everything.
On Dec. 30, Gonzalez, 42, hugged his children goodbye in his family home, giving each of them a $20 bill before he left.
"He said, 'I will always stand by you. Just don't cry. I will come back one day,'" recalled his 12-year-old daughter, Milka, who, along with her siblings, tried to give her dad the money back. He refused.