Yet another immigrant with a clean record is being deported to a country they don’t know, thanks to Trump’s America.
Lourdes Salazar Bautista, a Mexican mom with three children born in the United States, will board a plane from Michigan Tuesday and will go back to Mexico, a country she has not seen in 20 years. In the process, she will have to face the excruciating ordeal of leaving a teenage daughter behind.
Salazar Bautista came to the U.S. in 1997 but an immigration judge ordered her to be sent back to her country in absentia the following year. However, the Mexican immigrant claimed she never received a court order or even the notice for its subsequent decision.
She was able to lead a normal life until 2010 when she and her husband were detained by ICE.
“When I was taking one of my daughters to school, five cars arrived at my house,” said Salazar Bautista of how she came to be detained.
“I was asked if I was Lourdes Salazar. I said, ‘Yes.’ I was told, ‘You have to go back to your country right away because you are illegal here.’ I responded that I had a petition from one of my brothers to be here in this country,” she said. “They took me away. I was in jail for 23 days, despite the fact that I'm not a criminal.”
She said the immigration authorities made a deal with her lawyer at the time allowing her and her children to stay in the country while her husband was deported. Since then, she has checked in with her local ICE office and been allowed to continue living and working in the country on a year-by-year basis. However, under President Donald Trump’s new policies, she was told in March she would have to leave the country in August.
“According to new policies, what [the ICE agency] told me was that they had to clear all their open cases — all their archives — and that my case was a priority for deportation,” Salazar Bautista told ThinkProgress in a phone interview last Friday.
Out of her three children, who are U.S. citizens, two of them will travel with her to Mexico, while her oldest daughter will continue to live in the U.S. and will attend Michigan State University. The family is considering the possibility of having the two youngest children come back to the United States with an uncle so that they can continue going to their school in Ann Arbor.
“It would be a real struggle without my mom,” said her 13-year-old son Bryan Quintana-Salazar. “It's a real struggle already without my dad.”
Since assuming office in January, Trump’s immigration policies have allowed the ICE to detain undocumented immigrants, regardless of their criminal history.
Acting ICE director Thomas Homan said in June that no undocumented immigrant will be safe from deportation.
“ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” ICE spokesperson Khaalid Walls told ThinkProgress over email, when asked about Salazar Bautista. “However, as Secretary Kelly has made clear, ICE will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”
This is markedly different from former president Barack Obama’s policy, which sought to detain only those people who have been convicted of serious crimes and targeted “felons, not families.”
Salazar Bautista said her children, who have only seen the U.S., will be affected the most.
“I want to yell it to the world — to Trump — that I am not a criminal, that I’m a good person, that I’m a working person,” said a tearful Salazar Bautista in a phone interview. “I work for my children so that they can be good people for their community, for the country, for the world. I want to yell at Trump that I am not a criminal and that I should be with my children and not be deported.”
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson