Houston police chief hits order to deport child without family: 'Nazis enforced their laws as well'

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo on Friday blasted a recent immigration order, likely triggered by accident during the government shutdown, to deport an 11-year-old migrant girl without her family. 

Acevedo took to Twitter to slam the “heart-wrenching” news that Laura Maradiaga would be sent back to her native El Salvador alone.

 

Acevedo was sharing a Houston Chronicle report detailing the deportation order against the child.

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Maradiaga and her family entered the U.S. through the southern border in early October and claimed asylum. They have checked in with immigration officials without fail every two weeks. The family was given a February court date that was rescheduled to March 12 due to the government shutdown, the Chronicle reported.

Maradiaga’s official order states that she is subject to deportation because she was not present for the March 12 court appearance. Her mother Dora Alvarado, however, said she arrived at an immigration court that day with both of her daughters but was told that Maradiaga was not listed on the docket. 

The newspaper noted that it is unclear if the court translator available that day provided incorrect information or if the case fell through logistical cracks given the backlog of asylum cases delayed by the record-long partial government shutdown. 

Silvia Mintz, the family’s lawyer, said during a Thursday news conference that she would file to re-open the 11-year-old’s case. She blamed the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a branch of the Justice Department overseeing immigration courts, for the error.

“This mistake done by the immigration court has put this family in jeopardy,” Mintz said. “They will be separated if this is not stopped.”

The office confirmed to the Chronicle that the child’s removal order was issued and said it was reviewing the case.

The Hill has reached out to the agency for comment.

Child migrants who are deported alone usually arrived at the border without their parents, the newspaper noted.

“I feel bad because I don’t want to be separated from my family,” Maradiaga said in Spanish during the news conference. “I don’t want to be taken away from my mom.”

Her family’s home region of La Paz in El Salvador has been riddled by gang violence, Alvarado said. 

“The gangs don’t play by the rules of war,” she said. “It’s just violence for the sake of violence.”

The family reportedly fled to the U.S. when a gang member began harassing and threatening Alvarado’s 15-year-old daughter, Adamaris Alvarado.

Acevedo called on immigration officials to keep the family together and deport them as a “family unit” if they don’t meet asylum requirements.