UPDATE: Oscar was deported by Immigration & Customs Enforcement back to El Salvador
Thank you to everyone who has written letters to help keep Oscar in the United States. Thank you for raising your voices for justice. Unfortunately, we learned today that Oscar was deported back to El Salvador. Here is a statement from his immigration lawyers:
"We received an email from ICE yesterday notifying us that Oscar had been deported back to El Salvador. Obviously we (our firm) were very saddened by the news.
Oscar came to our country seeking refuge after his brother was brutally murdered by MS 13 and the gang started threatening him. Instead of refuge, Oscar's asylum application was denied and he was detained and deported back to the danger he fled from. This did not have to happen. ICE had the power to release Oscar. If Oscar did not deserve an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, who does? Oscar was not a criminal and he was not a threat to our national security. He was a member of our community and an active member of his church community. People from all over the country called and emailed ICE and more than 750 people signed a petition asking for Oscar to be released. I don't know what else we could have done. I guess now we just hold Oscar and his family in our prayers and hope that he stays safe..."
If there are further actions requested, we will post those here. Please ahold Oscar and all those facing injustice in the immigration system in the Light. Please remember Oscar and continue to work for change.
READ OSCAR'S STORY:
Note: A young man, Oscar, who fled El Salvador because he fears he will be murdered by the gang that killed his brother, may face deportation and is in urgent need of support. He may be processed for deportation back to El Salvador when he goes for his check-in April 21st with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Please read the post about him by Lori Khamala, watch the video below, and write a letter by Friday to ICE asking that he be allowed to stay in the United States. - Lucy
“In El Salvador, my brother saw MS-13 gang members kill his friend. So the gang killed my brother with a machete to his face. It was so brutal. It was the worst day of my life. I lost my best friend… To this day, I still struggle with the loss of my brother. I have nightmares when I do fall asleep and wake up feeling awful… Many times, I will call my mother, who is still in El Salvador. She tells me that she is afraid to leave the house, and she is thankful that I am safe because I am her,e and she does not have to worry about me. I miss my family so much.” - Oscar
In September of 2014, I met Oscar when I interviewed him to learn more about his story and about the conditions that he fled in El Salvador. I worked with him to create a short video documenting what he has gone through to help educate others on the violent atmosphere in El Salvador. Please watch his video below.
I was extremely moved by his story, his humility, and his kindness. I immediately recognized Oscar as a very genuine person, and it was clear that he is still traumatized by the brutal murder of his brother by gang members. He still has a great deal of trouble talking about it, even years later, and he still has trouble sleeping because he can't stop thinking about his brother. Since moving to North Carolina, Oscar has been working in construction and leads a quiet life. His faith and his religious practices are obviously very important to him, and he has gotten very involved in a local church. When I met him, I asked what he does for fun, and he said that he doesn’t ever go out except to his church.
Since we met in September, we have continued to stay in touch. He sends me messages about once or twice a month, usually just checking in and asking how my daughter is. I have been touched by his kindness and concern for me and my family, when it seems that he has far more struggles than I do.
Oscar fled El Salvador after his brother was murdered because he started to be threatened by the gang himself. Having spoken directly with him, I know that he fears for his life if he returns to El Salvador. Oscar applied for asylum in the United States, but his claim was denied. It is extremely hard to win asylum cases in countries where random violence is rampant.
If Oscar is deported back to El Salvador, his life is at risk. Recent reports indicate that the level of violence in El Salvador is only increasing. Just yesterday, Fox News Latino reported that “El Salvador had more homicides in March than any other single month in a decade,” and that, “Data from the National Civil Police show 481 homicides recorded last month, or more than 15 a day. April's start is no better, with 73 killings reported in the first five days. At this rate, El Salvador is on pace to surpass Honduras as the deadliest peace-time country in the world.”
We fear that Oscar will be detained and deported following his April 21st check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The only way to win his case now - the only way to keep him in the US and save his life - is through mobilizing community support. This has worked in past cases, and it can work now.
Therefore, we are asking everyone who hears Oscar’s story or watches his video to please consider writing a letter of support asking that Oscar be allowed to stay in the country. You can find a sample letter here. Please adapt it to make it your own.
Letters must be delivered to his lawyer's office no later than 4/17/15 (next Friday). They can be dropped off in person at the McKinney Immigration Law office, (910 North Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27401). You can also email your letter to Briana at firstname.lastname@example.org or to me at LKhamala@afsc.org.
Please share this blog post with your friends, family, and on social media. Together, we can help stop Oscar's deportation. Thank you for your support.