Let's All Hope An 11-Year-Old Refugee Child Is Not Deported To El Salvador By Herself
All Dora Alvarado wanted was for she and her two daughters to not be brutally murdered by gang members in El Salvador. It was out of this fear, after a relative testified against gang members in court, after another gang member who had been harassing her 15-year-old daughter threatened to kill her entire family if she told anyone, that she and her family came to America to seek asylum in October.
As a result of the government shutdown, an immigration court did not hear their case until March 12th, and when they showed up to court, where a court translator told them that although Dora Alvarado and her 15-year-old daughter Adamaris Alvarado were on the docket, her 11-year-old daughter Laura Maradiaga was not.
A few days later, Alvarado got a letter in the mail ordering her 11-year-old child to be deported, by herself, back to El Salvador because she had missed her March 12 court date. The one she was told she was not on the docket for. The letter was in English so they had to get another translator to tell them what that said as well.
No one can tell the family who it was that made the mistake, whether it was the court translator getting it wrong or someone else mucking it up -- but whatever it was, it's clear that the mistake was made by the court system and not an 11-year-old child. So one would think someone there would be able to say "Hey, how about instead of deporting this 11-year-old refugee back to El Salvador by herself, we could just get her a new court date?," right?
Alas, that is not what is happening. Rather than just admitting that there was an error, ICE is requiring the family to retain a lawyer to file a motion to re-open her case. Sylvia Mintz, the lawyer representing Maradiaga, will be filing that motion and says that she believes the Office of Principal Legal Advisor won't oppose the motion. Let us hope that is the case, because it sure would be messed up to take an 11-year-old fleeing gang violence and drop her right in the middle of El Salvador with no home or family because of a mistake by the court.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse