The mother of four has orders to be out of the U.S. by Oct. 28.
Maria Santiago Garcia fled sexual and physical violence in Guatemala for a new, safer life in the United States. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Santiago Garcia was able to get a visa specific for victims of abuse once she was in the U.S. and maintained a life for herself and her children. Santiago Garcia applied for asylum but wasn’t notified of the court hearing, says her attorney, Gage Herbst.
“In her situation, she was running for her life,” Herbst told KSL News. “The court will mail a notice of hearing to an individual that’s not certified mail. If that doesn’t arrive at their house then they don’t know about their hearing. Therefore, they can’t show up and are ordered removed from the country.”
Santiago Garcia, whose been living in the U.S. since 2003, is pleading with the U.S. government to spare her from deportation to keep her family together. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Santiago Garcia sells homemade tamales to support her family. Santiago Garcia’s four children, ages 11, 9, 5, and 3, spoke at a press confere]nce for their mother.
“I want to have a mom by my side so she can see me when I [become] a doctor,” one of her daughters said through tears at a press conference. “And when she’s sick, so I can cure her and I could protect her.”
Santiago Garcia’s deportation order comes from a misdemeanor conviction back in 2015. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Santiago Garcia was convicted of “obtaining or assisting in obtaining an identifying document of another,” which is a class A misdemeanor. The report goes on to explain that immigration enforcement under the Trump administration is responsible for the deportation order. A change in policy enforcement has made such misdemeanor infractions priority cases for removal from the country.
“All I ask is that they let me stay here with my kids, at least until they’re able to go to college and realize their dreams,” Santiago Garcia told KSL News. “That’s really all I want.”