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The U.S. Deported This Rising Soccer Star And Now He’s Gone Pro In His Native El Salvador Despite Being Thousands Of Miles From Family

People who have spent nearly their entire lives in the United States – are not immune to the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies. Even if you show up every month and check-in for your routine meetings with ICE officers, you’re still subject to the whims of an ever-changing legal scene and moody ICE officers with too much power.

That was the case for Lisandro Claros Saravia – who after having spend the past 11 years in the U.S. was deported back to his native El Salvador.

Lisandro was a rising star in the soccer world and had received an athletic scholarship in North Carolina.

If things had gone as they had for more than 10 years, Lisandro would still be with his family in the United States. His former coaches in the U.S. think he would likely have been drafted by a Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit.

For more than a decade, Lisandro had routine check-ins with ICE officers. But in the summer of 2017, everything changed.

Instead, Lizandro and Diego were deported seven months after President Trump took office and implemented a new immigration enforcement regime that did not exempt any undocumented immigrant from the threat of deportation, not even a college-bound teenager with a clean record and a soccer scholarship.

The two brothers had been in the U.S. for more than a decade and had big dreams.

Lizandro and his brother Diego arrived in the U.S. in 2009. They were just 11 and 14-years-old respectively and came into the country on visas that weren’t theres. Their parents and two siblings were already living in the U.S. at the time – so they came to be reunited with their family.

It was in 2012 when the two brothers had been ordered removed. But they received a temporary order granting them safety from deportation. When that protection expired, ICE didn’t deport them, but instead required them to check-in periodically. 

Then, years later, the two brothers hoped to take advantage of an expanded DACA program. But the expansion was blocked by a federal judge after several Republican states sued, a decision affirmed by a 4-4 deadlock in the Supreme Court in 2016.

Having been deported from the home they knew for more than a decade, forced the brothers to rebuilt their lives in a country they left as children.

Credit: Kervy Robles / Getty

Despite the huge challenges these two brothers have faced, they’re not letting it stop them from chasing their dreams – even when they’re thousands of miles away from their family.

“Deportation really made me strong. It taught me to keep moving forward in life and to keep going because things will get better in the end,” Lizandro told CBS News.

Less than three years after his deportation, Lizandro has earned a starting position in Independiente F.C., a team in El Salvador’s top professional soccer league. He is now one of the most promising soccer talents in El Salvador and part of a young generation of players many expect will ultimately bolster the ranks of the national team.

Although he wants to be with his family in Maryland, Lizandro relishes his new responsibilities as a role model for the children in his hometown of Jucuapa, which used to be known for a booming coffin-making business.

Lizandro’s uncle, Romeo Mejicanos, said his nephew’s success has challenged the stereotypes associated with young, working-class Salvadoran men, who are often recruited by the country’s warring gangs. Lizandro is a beacon for the entire municipality of Jucuapa, which used to be known for its thriving coffin-making business, fueled by El Salvador’s extremely high murder rates.

“That stigma that you have to turn to violence if you are young has been eroding. We can no longer say that the local youths are heading down the wrong path,” Mejicanos, a longtime Jucuapa resident, told CBS News in Spanish. “Jucuapa now has a new face, and it is that of Lizandro and of Diego, who are both excelling and have humbly demonstrated that things can be accomplished the right way.”

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