PROTAGONIST  an advocate or champion of a particular cause or idea

A Girl in Need of Daddy

Una niña que necesita a su papá 

This film is the true story of a little girl named Rebecca, who was gravely ill at Christmas. Her doctors feared this could be her last Christmas alive. Her only wish was for her daddy to be with her. But, unfortunately, the father was locked up in an ICE detention center. So, with two days' notice, Ralph Isenberg (tagline El Gringo Schindler) and his staff embarked on a mission to make her wish come true.

​Three days before Christmas, the office of El Gringo Schindler gets a frantic call from a mother needing to see someone right away. She explained how her daughter was battling cancer, and her prognosis for survival was poor. In addition, her daughter was in great pain, having just undergone a bone marrow transplant.

 

The mother arrives with her daughter. Nothing could have prepared Isenberg and his staff for meeting the girl for the first time. Rebecca was wearing a magenta winter coat and wore a surgical mask. The girl looked so weak. Everyone in the office held back tears when the mother lowered the coat's hood to see the child's baldness. As the mother took off her jacket, everyone observed a treatment port near her belly. The mother asked if we could wear masks which she brought with her. There was the risk of infection that would be deadly to Rebecca.

The matter before Isenberg was straightforward. The father was a foreign national that had been picked up by ICE a few weeks prior. The father was having a beer in his front yard. ICE was anxious to deport the father before Christmas. The family had no money to hire an attorney. The mother had pawned the entire house to buy medical supplies for her daughter, except for a sofa.

Isenberg got the staff to gather up necessary documentation to support the matter while making calls to ICE. An agent and a supervisor at ICE stated it was too late to arrange the father's release. Isenberg then used a private line he had managed to secure, to call the area director. The director referred the matter to legal. Calls to legal proved pointless. The staff had put together a complete package of information for ICE and the media. Finally, El Gringo Schindler got through to ICE headquarters in Washington. ICE listens to the concerns raised by Isenberg and states they will decide in the morning. The following day passed, and still no word. Isenberg concluded ICE was stalling him. Something had needed to happen.

Isenberg had no alternative but to plan a protest. Isenberg needed to come up with a demonstration that would spark attention. He decided to enlist the children of foreign national families his office was helping. The plan was for the children to join Isenberg at ICE and sing Christmas carols. The calls went out for help, and the following day Isenberg rented two Greyhound busses to take him and over eighty children with some parents over to ICE.

 

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ICE was caught entirely off guard and tried to disperse the children from singing carols. The children saw a sizable number of Federal Protective Police which proved to be a great photo opportunity for the media. The police wanted to arrest Isenberg. Each time the Federal Protective Police approached him, the children knew to circle him and sing as loud as possible. After an hour, it was time for lunch at the Galleria Mall. The mall was full of shoppers picking up last-minute gifts and enjoying the decorations. El Gringo Schindler decided to have a "flash" concert. The shoppers thought all was normal. While the children were singing, the staff members were briefing the media that followed the children from ICE.

 

A media member pointed several ICE agents out to Isenberg. After a pizza lunch, Isenberg changed his plans and decided the agents needed an escort back to ICE. The busses headed back to ICE, where children got off the busses and formed a line of two each. They held hands and proceeded to sing carols while making their way to the main entrance. By this time, there were three dozen members of Federal Protective Police dressed in riot gear. The children were not in the least bit afraid and started on their own accord to loudly yell "Rebecca" over and over. The situation was tense, but the children refused to back down. The singing continued.

 

Suddenly, Isenberg heard his phone ring. The only words spoken were, "Go get your man." El Gringo Schindler knew he had to act fast. The busses took the kids back to the gathering point. Two carloads of staff and Isenberg raced off to pick the dad up at the ICE detention center. Then, with dad in hand, the next stop was his home. The family was waiting outside for the caravan. Rebecca was too ill to venture out and just stayed at the front door. 

 

To this day, there are no words strong enough to describe the reunion of Rebecca with her daddy. She stared in disbelief as her father came and picked her up. Images were able to capture the embrace for eternity. The father carried his daughter into the house. El Gringo Schindler followed father and daughter into the house. Rebecca points at Isenberg and says in Spanish that "so many people had told her to be brave when she was in pain." She talked of the promises the others had made. Then she points at El Gringo Schindler and says, "only that man kept his word." A gravely ill child had gotten her Christmas wish, and the world was a better place that evening. The singing of Silent Night will never feel the same.

 

Ralph Isenberg is the El Gringo Schindler.

 

Ralph Isenberg is El Gringo Schindler