As I retrieved my daily Houston Chronicle from my lawn and settled down in my comfy chair to read, my blood pressure spiked and I was spitting nails as I read the front page headline, the accompanying story, and the headline photo above.
This story, written by Chronicle staff writer Ileana Najarro, begins this way:
Dora Alvarado felt something was off when she arrived at immigration court in Houston March 12 with her two daughters. A court translator told her that she and her 15-year-old, Adamaris Alvarado, were listed on the docket that day. Her 11-year-old, Laura Maradiaga, was not.
Days later, Alvarado received a letter in English — a language she cannot speak or read — bearing Laura’s name. It wasn’t until the trio returned to court this week that a different translator told her the letter was the 11-year-old’s removal order.
“I don’t want to leave my mom,” Laura said Thursday. “I want to stay with her.”
Fortunately, this headline story is not behind the Houston Chronicle’s usual paywall and can be read and viewed in full here: Girl ordered deported without her family. Please read the full article and accompanying photos to get the full story. And keep any blood pressure medication at the ready.
At a news conference organized by FIEL, a local immigration advocacy group, Alvarado’s family lawyer, Sylvia Mintz, said they will file a motion to reopen this deportation case and said that immigration officials were at fault for the girl’s missed court appearance (even though she was there in person but for some reason was left off the docket). So it looks like either the court and/or immigration authorities accidentally (or deliberately) screwed up royally on this one.
From further in the Chronicle article:
Mintz blamed the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a branch of the Justice Department overseeing immigration courts, for the error resulting in the 11-year-old’s deportation.
“This mistake done by the immigration court has put this family in jeopardy,” Mintz said. “They will be separated if this is not stopped.”
The Executive Office for Immigration Review confirmed the removal order was issued and said it was looking into the case.
The official order states that Laura is subject to deportation because she was not present for the March 12 court appearance. [Even though she was there, but was not on the docket, my addition.] Whether the court translator available that day provided incorrect information [yeah, blame the little guy, my addition again], or the girl’s case fell through the cracks [ya’ think, me again], is unclear.
Please read the full article, since I have reached the very edge of fair use. But let me end with the very last sentence in the article:
“I want to be a police officer when I grow up,” she [Laura Maradiaga] said. “I want to keep people safe from the bad guys.”
Sigh, but which bad guys Laura, which bad guys. I hope you get your wish Laura.
The reason the family left El Salvador for the “safety” of the United States is because of the rampant violence occurring in their very neighborhood in El Salvador. In one of the photos in the full Chronicle article that you can view is the mother Dora Alvarado holding up a photo of a neighbor who was left for dead near their home in El Salvador.
So please read the article. This may have been an innocent clerical error, maybe. But stories like this occur too often and tear my heart in two and emphasize the life-or-death consequences of the 2020 election. And here I thought it would be a relaxing Friday.
I want to give a big “Thank You” to the Houston Chronicle. This story is an example of the kind of investigatory journalism that is needed now, everywhere, every day. It is the cockroaches that fear the light of day. Let the light of truth shine.