Family still intact - for now

Oscar Campos Estrada’s extended family got to celebrate Father’s Day together this year.

The gathering at a relative’s Tacoma home included an extra dad – Campos Estrada’s 76-year-old father, Salvador Campos, visiting from Mexico.

As the two fathers sat on a couch at the party June 15, a nephew snuck up and attacked Oscar with confetti.

“We enjoy having all of our kids playing with each other,” Campos Estrada’s brother, Cesar, said about family dinners. “It feels really good having everybody here.”

The elder Campos said he’d been sick recently but was feeling better, and that it was good to be with family. He was not sure how many months he’d stay.

His other children could have made the trip to Mexico when he fell ill, but without a green card or other paperwork, Campos Estrada couldn’t.

“We decided that we want to see him, so we brought him up here for a few months,” the son said. “Especially me. My brothers and sisters, they all have green cards or citizenship. They can go.”

Visiting Mexico again one day is Campos Estrada’s goal, if he gets his green card.

“That’s the dream,” he said, adding he’d like to visit his mother’s grave.

But making ends meet is tough, he said, even before paying green card fees and other legal expenses, plus family expenses and the child support he owes his former wife.

“Just one thing after another,” he said

As Campos Estrada tries to support his youngest children, he says he’s behind on payments to help support the older ones in the care of his ex.

“I’m way behind,” he said. “Every time I fall behind a certain number of months, they send me a letter, saying: ‘We need to have some money here by this day, or we’re going to have to suspend your driver’s license.’

“The money I was going to use for groceries, diapers, you name it, I have to send it to child support.”

Meanwhile, his daughter America is working as a dental assistant, supporting her young daughter.

And his oldest son is studying public relations at Eastern Washington University, with scholarships he won.

“All I did was sign a lot of paperwork,” Campos Estrada said. “He’s pulling it all together.”

He said he pushed education as his children were growing up, and that he’s proud of them.

“I always told them, you need to stay in school,” he said. “That was my saying: you need to be in school.”