Things That Matter

This Salvadoran Father Of Two Was Deported Early In The Trump Administration And Has Been Allowed Back To The US

Recently, we have been hearing of story after story of families ripped apart by inhumane immigration policies.

And for one Houston father, that’s exactly what happened. He was detained and deported to his native El Salvador after living in the US most of his life. But thankfully, this story has a happy ending as he’s now been allowed to return to the US to live with his family.

A Houston father of two American born kids was deported to El Salvador but now he’s back in the US with his family.

Credit: @AP / Twitter

A 33-year-old father of two American-born children was allowed to return to the US on Monday, two years after being deported to El Salvador during the first months of the Trump administration.

Jose Escobar was welcomed at Houston Intercontinental Airport by a group of supporters. He was accompanied by his wife, Rose, and their two children, Walter and Carmen, who had flown to El Salvador in June to visit him.

They were all together in El Salvador when they got word that US immigration authorities had approved waivers that would let him return to the US.

Watch the emotional moment here:

The Houston-based advocacy group FIEL contacted local attorney Raed González, who took up Escobar’s case. He filed paperwork with U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services requesting waivers that would allow Escobar to return to the U.S., citing the hardship his deportation had placed on Rose.

Those waivers were granted last month.

He had been forced to help his wife parent their children via Facebook.

Credit: @Realtor336502 / Twitter

He had video calls with his family at night, but he was often scared and worried about leaving the family home, as the gangs roaming the streets were known to target people who had come back from America and once held him up. He would watch the video from his home’s security cameras remotely.

His children, meanwhile, struggled with the pain of losing their father. And with Jose having trouble making money in El Salvador, Rose Escobar supported the family on her own as a hospital receptionist and relied on savings that were quickly dwindling.

Escobar originally came to the US as a teenager with Temporary Protected Status after the 2001 El Salvador earthquake.

Credit: TemblorNet / Flickr

El Salvador suffered a devastating earthquake on January 13, 2001, and experienced two more earthquakes on February 13 and 17, 2001.

In the aftermath, to help support refugees fleeing the country, the US granted Temporary Protected Status to El Salvador. This meant they could come to the US without the risk of deportation.

Then, under the Obama administration, he was arrested and detained for several months.

After an intense lobbying campaign, the local field office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Escobar in January 2012 “so he could get his affairs in order,” the agency said last year.

In February 2017, shortly after Trump took office and widened the priorities for detaining and deporting immigrants without authorization, Escobar was arrested during what was supposed to be a routine ICE check-in.

The next month, he was deported to El Salvador. He called his wife from the San Salvador airport to tell her what had happened.

Escobar moved to a town that’s about three hours from San Salvador, living with relatives and working intermittently as a laborer.

But now the family is living together reunited in their home of Houston.

Credit: @ChronFalkenberg / Twitter

On Monday, Escobar arrived with this lawyer who flew with him from El Salvador because he said he didn’t want anything at the last minute to go wrong. Escobar’s wife and children, his lawyer and other supporters held balloons shaped like butterflies, a symbol, they said, of migration.

Rose Escobar told other families with deported relatives to use their voice and urged lawmakers to listen.

“We need you to be the voices for other Escobars, children who need their daddy, children who need their mommy,” she told the Houston Chronicle.

As the weeks turned into months, then years, she said friends and strangers gently urged her to think of moving on. To forget.

She added: “People kept saying, ‘It’s taking so long, you should just give up,’” she said. “I would always say, ‘He’s coming home. Soon, in God’s time.’”

READ: He Has Been Deported Twice And Is Now Fighting His Third Deportation To Stay With His Sick Child

Migrant Families Separated At The US Border Are Suing The Government Over Their Inhumane Separation Policy

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Migrant Families Separated At The US Border Are Suing The Government Over Their Inhumane Separation Policy

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The ACLU has recently filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of five migrant families and their children, who the lawsuit says were “torn from their parents’ arms with little or no warning.” The suit alleges that the U.S. government “cruelly and inhumanely separated” children from their parents in Arizona and along the U.S. border, and by doing so, is culpable in the trauma inflicted on the families. The lawsuit details the unimaginable trauma that these families during several months in federal custody in 2018. 

Karina, who was just 13 years old at the time, was forcibly separated from her mother on Christmas Day. Karina was so devastated, she was handcuffed as a means to control her while her mother was taken away. They didn’t see each other again for 16 months. They’re telling their stories in the hope that it will help all families who were forcibly separated to gain reparations from the government. 

Seven-year-old Diana fell asleep in a detention center and woke up to find her father, Jorge, was taken away without a chance to say goodbye.

Credit: @NickMiroff / Twitter

Diana and Jorge fled Honduras after their family had been “subjected to death threats, intimidation, and violence,” according to the suit. Last June, the two arrived on U.S. soil and immediately turned themselves in to CBP and asked for asylum. They were immediately taken to a concrete cell that was “filthy and smelled of urine,” court documents read. They were given Mylar emergency blankets and no other mats, pillows or blankets. Children slept on benches while parents slept on the concrete floor. 

Around midnight, a CBP officer took Jorge out of the cell. Jorge assumed it was to ask him some questions and that he’d return to his daughter. The officer put cuffs on his wrists and ankles and escorted him to a detention facility, with no chance to say goodbye. Jorge begged for answers on what would happen to his daughter, but the officer ignored him. When they finally reunited, Diana didn’t hug her father back. She had become attached to her social worker. Months later, Diana is suffering from severe separation anxiety. The two are still pursuing asylum.

Beatriz was three years old when she saw ICE “violently remove a child from her mother,” court documents read. Then ICE took her away from her father.

Credit: @MelissaGomez004 / Twitter

When a mother refused to give up her child, four CBP officers tried to forcibly take the child from her. One officer repeatedly “struck the woman with his hands,” the suit states. Beatriz clung tighter to her father, who knew he would face violence if he didn’t let her go. Her father was deported without her. Beatriz would be taken thousands of miles away to New York and be assigned to a caretaker who would physically abuse her while she was in federal custody. When Beatriz was deported five months after her father, he noticed a scar on her back and bruises on her legs. She said a woman hit her with the “hard part of a belt,” according to the suit. The two are currently living in Santa Isabel, Guatemala, and struggling. Beatriz almost entirely lost her ability to speak Mam, the Mayan language her family speaks. After reunification, the suit states Beatriz was “was uncomfortable being around
her parents after they were reunited, almost as if they were strangers to her.”

Andrés, then 6 years old, kicked and screamed as he was pulled from the arms of his father, Jacinto.

Credit: @JoyceWhiteVance / Twitter

Jacinto tried to tell the guards that Andrés had a heart murmur but the suit alleges the guards were “uninterested.” The suit alleges that one officer told Jacinto that his son now “belonged to Trump.” When Jacinto wept in his cell, without his son, another officer mocked him for crying “like a little girl,” court documents state. Jacinto was deported while Andrés remained in U.S. custody. They wouldn’t see each other again for another ten months.  Meanwhile, Andrés was put into foster care where his caretakers asked him to call them “Mom” and “Dad.” When they were reunited over a year later, things were different. Andrés cries more often, has a shorter temper and struggles to be apart from Jacinto. The two are currently seeking asylum.

The suit alleges that family separation would invariably produce trauma and that the U.S. did not offer any mental health services to those families.

Credit: @peterdaou / Twitter

The suit is alleging that the trauma was intentional as a means to deter Central American families from even seeking asylum. According to the suit, U.S. officials who ordered that the family separation policy goes into effect “destroyed families
to inflict severe pain on Central American immigrants, hoping that this would cause them
to abandon their asylum cases and deter other Central Americans from seeking asylum or
other immigration relief in the United States.” One parent traumatized by the family separation policy died by suicide. 

If the families win the lawsuit, reparations could be made to all families affected by family separation.

Credit: @fams2gether / Twitter

The suit isn’t just trying to share traumatic stories. It’s trying to illustrate how a single event has broken families, even after reunification. Nearly all families have been reunited, but the symptoms of PTSD live on. Parents are scarred from being forcibly deprived of protecting their children from their own PTSD and continue to suffer from “fear and anxiety, trouble sleeping,
nightmares, painful headaches, and dizzy spells, and other symptoms,” according to the suit.

Winning would be a huge win to Latinos, who the suit alleges were racially targeted by President Trump. More than 95 percent of the class action plaintiffs are from Central America.

READ: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Got Real Emotional In Episode About Undocumented Immigrants And Family Separation

Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

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Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

@bbcstories / Twitter

There are rising tensions in El Salvador as activists are protesting the attorney general’s decision to seek a third trial for a woman accused of killing her stillborn son. The woman, Evelyn Hernandez, was exonerated in an August retrial after an earlier judgment found her guilty of killing her stillborn son and sentenced her to 30 years behind bars. Hernandez, 21, was found innocent after the judge said there was not enough evidence to convict her of the crime. 

The issue of abortion has always been a widely-debated and divisive topic in conservative El Salvador where abortion is illegal. Many women in the country have been prosecuted for attempting abortions even in dire medical situations. Activists look at Hernandez’s case as an example of an unjust system targeting her due to her limited financial status. 

 “We do not want Evelyn to be viewed as a criminal and persecuted,” Claribel Ayala, a protester outside the attorney general’s office in El Salvador told Reuters. “We’re going to stand with her until justice is done.”

While activists see Hernandez’s case as a trial against women rights, prosecutors are looking at her as a criminal.

Credit: @NARAL / Twitter 

Activists dressed in clown attire took to the streets of El Salvador this week to voice their disapproval of the news that attorney general Raul Melara would be seeking a third trial in Hernandez’s case. Many of them threw confetti-filled eggs at his office and even painted his door red with paint. Melara acknowledges their anger but sees the case with a different lens.  

“There are groups that have a big interest in seeing this as persecution against poverty, that this woman is being targeted because she had an emergency outside the hospital, but the proof is overwhelming and shows this isn’t the case,” Melara told reporters.

Hernandez’s release from prison was viewed as a victory for women rights. 

Credit: @karlazabs / Twitter

Hernandez said she was raped by a gang member and was unaware of her pregnancy until just before delivering a stillborn son back in 2016. She was found on her bathroom floor covered with blood and would be taken to an emergency room by her mother and a neighbor. When doctors examined her they noted that there were visible signs of delivery but found no baby. They reported Hernandez to local authorities and would later find her newborn dead inside of a septic tank.

She’s been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the alleged killing of her child. Prosecutors said that she had purposely induced abortion only to leave the newborn to die. Hernandez wound up only serving 33 months out of her original 30-year sentence before being released in February. 

This was due to an appeal before the Supreme Court who said that Hernandez should be released due the original conviction being based on prejudice and insufficient evidence. The acquittal was looked at as a huge victory for women’s rights not only in El Salvador but globally. 

“It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent,” Hernandez said the day she was released. “There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.”

Hernandez has maintained her innocence from the start that she had no knowledge of being pregnant. Now prosecutors are looking at a third trial to convict her of killing her newborn child. 

Credit: @marlasirens / Twitter

The attorney general is seeking to convict Hernandez of murder even after being released from prison. While many see Hernandez as the true victim in this ordeal, prosecutors see things differently.  

“As Attorney General of the Republic, we are responsible for the support and accompaniment of women victims in any crime and in any of its modalities, but, in the case of Evelyn Hernández, there are no elements to consider her a victim of any fact, on the contrary, the only victim is her son,” prosecutors said in a statement . “This appeal is the manifestation of the legal protection of … the life of a helpless being who depended absolutely on the care of his mother, who caused his death.”

Hernandez’s legal team is fighting back against these claims saying that the attempt at a retrial is a waste of resources that could be used to serve more important issues. 

“We expected this persecution against Evelyn to stop,” one of her lawyers, Elizabeth Deras, told BuzzFeed News. “Instead, they are spending the state’s resources unnecessarily. Resources that could be used to fight corruption.”

As of now, the request for a new trial must be assessed by a different court before it can proceed legally. The prosecution is looking to sentence Hernandez to 40 years in prison.  

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