kristin
heinichen

photojournalist
heinichenkristin@gmail.com
740-591-0712

of good moral character

At six his father taught him to cook, at nine he
learned to box and at 14 he held odd jobs, so at
16 when he was suddenly on his own, Isaac Jr.
had no reservations about fending for himself.

His father, Isaac Sr., did not want to abandon his son, but as they were both living in the country illegally he predicted that separation was inevitable. Though Isaac Sr. worked, paid taxes and was law abiding, the only real control he had over his set of circumstances, he thought, was teaching Isaac Jr. to be self-reliant for that fateful day when they would have to part. Isaac Sr. agreed to voluntary deportation to Mexico after if was discovered that he was an undocumented immigrant.

"He always told me he wasn't going to be around," Isaac Jr. said. "He wanted me to learn as much as I could because the more I knew the better chance I would have for a good future."

Birthright shouldn't preclude a bright future. This is the sentiment of many who have helped put Isaac Jr., an illegal immigrant, on the path towards obtaining proper documentation to stay in the country.

Currently Isaac Jr. is in the custody of the state, attending his senior year in high school and training at the local boxing gym.

“I was taught to never retreat," he said.

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Isaac Jr. scans a growing crowd in search of his father who was recently released from jail, before his boxing match at Foley’s Mixed Martial Art Training Center in Ogden, UT.
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Isaac Jr., visits his father, Isaac Sr., at Weber County Jail for over six months in Ogden, UT, when it was discovered he was an undocumented immigrant after being pulled over for a simple traffic violation.
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Isaac Jr. takes the Front Runner to Salt Lake City where his father is living out his remaining days in Utah before voluntarily crossing the boarder back to his country, Tijuana, Mexico.
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Isaac Jr. releases his last punch, which knocks down his opponent for the second time securing his victory, during a boxing match at Foley's Mixed Martial Arts Training Center in Ogden, Utah.
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Isaac Jr. volunteers for clean up crew, helping employee Mike McAuliffe at a juvenile facility where he is staying as he waits for his court hearing determining if McAuliffe can be his foster parent, in Ogden, Utah.
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Patty Fenimore (left), Isaac Jr’s Guardian Ad Litem, explains to him that the judge has given her permission for paperwork to be submitted for his citizenship, while Mike McAuliffe (center), his new guardian, celebrates with friends who came to support Isaac Jr. at 2nd District Juvenile Court in Ogden, UT. While Isaac eventually processes the good news, he’s concentrating on the unpleasant picture painted of his parents.
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Isaac Jr. (left), with the help of Leigh (right) and Kira Bench (12) and family, move his belongings for the second time following his father's arrest, to Leigh's sister's home a few miles down the road in Ogden, Utah.
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Isaac Sr. (center) is accompanied by his girlfriend and his son, Isaac Jr., to the Greyhound bus in Salt Lake City, UT, beginning his journey back to Tijuana, Mexico. Isaac Jr.’s future in the United States is tenuous, and it’s uncertain when the two will be reunited.
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Isaac Sr. rides with his brother, Juan, to Monterey, Mexico on a job delivery. Under the instruction of Juan, Isaac Sr. is learning to drive big rigs so that he may eventually get a job with his brothers company.
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Isaac Sr. lays on the couch at his brother’s house in Durango, Mexico. Though he spent most of his time looking over his shoulder as an illegal immigrant in the U.S., joblessness was never one of his concerns.
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A hog was slaughtered and every bit of was cooked for a “quinceanera.” Hundreds of family members and friends plan to celebrate for the sweet-15 party for the next two days.
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Christian iconography adorns most walls in a small community on the outskirts of downtown Durango, Mexico.
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Isaac Sr. once had access to a washer and dryer while living in the States. He now washes his clothes in the sink at his brothers house, explaining that he takes great pride in his appearance and therefore not above hand washing.
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Isaac Lugo Jr. does a conditioning class as part of his training as a boxer at Foley’s Mixed Martial Arts Training Center in Ogden, UT.
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Isaac Jr. communicates with his boss who dropped off remnants of a construction job at a dump in Layton, Utah.
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Isaac Jr., who just moved a second time following the arrest of his father, is getting ready to arrange his collection of trophies from his achievements in the boxing ring.
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Isaac Jr. celebrates his 18th birthday at Foley's Mixed Martial Arts Training Center with owner Dave Foley (right) who shares the same birthday. Foley and others at the gym identified that Isaac needed help back when his father had been arrested and began the fight which helped keep Isaac Jr. in the states.
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Isaac Jr. is encouraged by those working at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Salt Lake City who explained that he can now acquire a passport, allowing him to visit his father in Mexico.