Judge Reopens Deportation Case Against 11-Year-Old Girl

A judge has reopened the case of an 11-year-old girl who was ordered to be deported back to El Salvador without her family.

Laura Maradiaga, 11, was reportedly given a deportation order after she was not included on a docket for her family’s immigration court appearance, the Houston Chronicle first reported. Maradiaga’s mother, Dora Alvarado — who only speaks Spanish — reportedly received a letter in English a few days after a March 12 court appearance that stated her 11-year-old was not present during the hearing, according to the publication. Alvarado, and Maradiaga’s 15-year-old sister, Adamaris Alvarado, were listed on the docket.

It is unclear if the family’s court translator gave the family the wrong information or if there was another error, the Houston Chronicle reported. On Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported the order was set aside by a judge and the girl can continue to live in the US with her family. Cesar Espinosa, the executive director of FIEL, an immigration advocacy organization, told KTRK he was glad the court made the decision to throw out the order.

"We are elated that the court has taken this case into consideration and taken swift action to fix this grave error they made," Espinosa told the news station. "We hope that at the end of the day we will have the resolution the family deserves and the Maradiaga Alvarado family remain together and safe." Laura and her family came to the US through the southern border in October and reportedly told government officials they were afraid to return to El Salvador, according to the Houston Chronicle. The family reportedly fled the Central American country after a gang member had threatened Adamaris and said she would be killed if she told her family, the outlet stated.

“That’s when mom told us we were going to the United States,” Maradiaga said in a press conference on Thursday held by FIEL, according to the publication. The family pursued their case for asylum and said that a February court date was rescheduled for March 12 because of the government shutdown. During the news conference, the family’s lawyer blamed the Executive Office for Immigration Review for the error which could lead to the girl’s deportation, according to the publication.

“This mistake done by the immigration court has put this family in jeopardy,” attorney Silvia Mintz said. “They will be separated if this is not stopped.” A fundraiser for Laura and her family was launched on GoFundMe on Saturday. It has raised over $13,000 of its $20,000 goal as of Wednesday, according to the fundraising website. “The funds will go directly to the family to help them pay for basic necessities so that they may focus on fighting their case,” the description of the fundraiser read.

Following the news of the possible deportation, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo wrote that the immigration order to deport the 11-year-old girl was “heart-wrenching.” “This is heart-wrenching. 1,000 points of light? Family values? American values? Judeo-Christian (sic) values? If you’re a person of faith, speak out. WWJD?” Acevedo wrote on Twitter Friday night.

In a second tweet, Acevedo said no child should be separated from their family. “The Nazis enforced their laws as well,” Acevedo tweeted. “You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! You’d have to kill me to take my child from me simply because I was trying to get them to a better place for a better tomorrow. I am glad to be on the right side of history.”

In March, President Donald Trump announced he was cutting of $500 million in aid to Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Univision previously reported. Trump slammed government officials in those countries for not doing more to prevent the migrant exodus.

“I'm not playing games," Trump previously told reporters. "I've ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras, and El Salvador. No money goes there anymore.” "We were giving them $500 million. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money and we're not paying them anymore because they haven't done a thing for us," he added. "They set up these caravans in many cases, they put their worst people in the caravan. They're not going to put their best in. They get rid of their problems and they march up here."

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.