Joaquin Luna, an 18-year-old high school student, shot and killed himself on November 25, and letters recovered after the suicide stated Luna wanted his death to serve as a call to action for immigration reform.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Luna kissed family members then went into a bathroom and shot himself in the head at about 9 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, according to KGBT.
Born in Reynosa, Mexico, Luna grew up in the United States and was a student at Benito Juarez-Abraham Lincoln High School in Mission, Texas, according to the Washington Times. His brother, Diyer Mendoza, told KGBT, the local CBS affiliate, that his brother got good grades and aspired to be an engineer, but felt his dream was hopeless due to his citizenship status.
Speaking to the Washington Times, Mendoza said his brother had some college prospects, but because he was undocumented, he was ineligible for some scholarships and felt he would not be able to embark on a successful career.
“He was actually doing this for the cause, mainly the Dream Act,” Mendoza told the Times, referring to his brother’s death. “He was doing this to show politicians, to show that something had to be done because there are a lot of kids out there in the same situation.”
The Dream Act was federal legislation designed to give illegal immigrant students like Luna legal residency status and the opportunity to attend college. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 but was defeated by a Senate filibuster.
In the absence of national immigration reform, states have begun moving forward with immigration laws. In October, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill dubbed the California Dream Act, which allowed illegal immigrants to access state financial aid for college. Texas allows illegal immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges, which is a policy that the state’s governor, Rick Perry, has had to defend on the campaign trail for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.