Saloman Guevara thought he was following the rules to stay in this country legally. He never missed an appointment when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) told him to come to their offices to review his status. On Tuesday, November 19, Guevara voluntarily entered the ICE office in Dallas, expecting to find out the status of his paperwork. Instead, he was arrested and told he was being deported, even though he qualifies to remain in the country. Guevara’s case highlights what many immigrants have come to realize: despite what the law says, if a bureaucrat at ICE decides they don’t want you here, you are no longer welcome in America.
Guevara, a native of El Salvador, is the father of two American citizen children, with a third eligible for DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act), and has lived in the United States for over a decade. He initially lived here legally under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allowed him legal U.S. residency because of the violent situation he faced in his home country. Due to a paperwork error, he says, his status lapsed, and a deportation order was issued. Guevara filed an I-246 (a stay of deportation), and was granted a one-year stay in 2012.
He applied for another extension in 2013, but despite being in exactly the same situation, the application was denied. The rejection is surprising, especially since the United States still officially recognizes El Salvador as a country so dangerous that its citizens can apply for TPS to remain here. According to staff members of the Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE), an immigration advocacy group now assisting Guevara with his case, the rejection was less about the merits of his case and more about the fact that the Dallas ICE office has a new director, Simona Flores, who has rejected stays of deportation that had previously been approved. These rejections come with no explanation as to why, and come as a standard form letter. Guevara’s detention may also be tied to the fact that ICE is required by law to keep a certain number of immigrants detained at any time. This has led to charges that ICE is detaining any undocumented foreign national they can find just to meet this quota.
Guevara is one of many immigrants who had legal residency status at one time, only to lose it because of hit-or-miss immigration policies that treat cases with similar situations very differently. In the meantime, Guevara has raised a family of American citizen children and paid all of his taxes. Because of his original Temporary Protected Status, he has a valid social security number. He even teaches Sunday School at his church near his home in Watauga, a Ft. Worth suburb.
When Guevara was detained, he was not allowed to contact his family, and his wife had no idea of his situation. She eventually traveled to the ICE office in Dallas with ICIE staff members to turn in paperwork and work on his release. Even though she was calm and cooperative, ICE staff threatened to have her and ICIE staff members arrested if they did not leave. In a letter of complaint to ICE, Ralph Isenberg, founder of ICIE, stated “ICIE does not appreciate the ‘police state’ tactics of threatening to call Federal Protective Services if (Guevara’s wife) and my staff did not leave. To treat my staff in a threatening way is a clear violation of the 5th Amendment.”
Guevara’s nine-year-old daughter wrote a letter to ICE officials, which Isenberg included with his complaint. “I think it is relly (sp) unfair to punish my father that tries to do the right thing,” she said. “I would like him to stay for my birthday, my Mom’s birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s. My brothers, my mom, and I beg you to let my Dad stay.”
ICIE continues to work to secure Guevara’s release while his paperwork for a stay is still in process.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to receive a weekly email update from WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE link here or at the top of this page.