U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported a young man and his brother back to Central America, despite the fact that one brother is on a college scholarship and neither has a criminal record. They did enter the United States illegally, however.
Lizandro Claros Saravia, 19, and his 22-year-old brother Diego were sent back to El Salvador on Wednesday, despite the fact that Lizandro was on a soccer scholarship to college and considered “one of the best in the country” at the sport, and despite the great media push to keep the family together in the US.
Their family had entered the United States illegally in 2009 before being caught with false documentation. A final order of removal was issued in 2012 for the brothers. Although they were granted a stay in 2013, continued applications were rejected. Nick Katz of CASA de Maryland, an immigration advocacy-and-assistance organization, said that an immigration official stated that Lizandro’s college plans were indicative of an attempt to stay in the United States indefinitely.
Lizandro had a scholarship to the two-year Louisburg College in North Carolina and hoped to be able to go on to a four-year institution. Diego worked at a repair auto shop and told ICE officials they planned to move in together to support Lizandro’s burgeoning career.
“He just has a rare natural sense for defending — something you rarely see in youth soccer,” Brett Colton, who previously coached Lizandro, told ABC News. “He’s a fantastic center back and one of the best in the country.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are, what your ties are to the United States, where or not you have a criminal history,” Katz told the New York Daily News. “They are not allowing people to stay.”
“Shame on President Trump for tearing apart hardworking immigrant families,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, tweeted on Wednesday. “We should be focused on MS-13, not scholarship winners.”
Now, it could take the two boys more than a decade to be able to return to the United States.
“They have separated my family,” their mother, Lucia Saravia, said. “We were together, and we were very happy.”