In Ohio, Marinela Martinez-Magana’s troubles started because she was trying to follow the law. The 27-year-old mother of three, was in court to pay a traffic ticket when she was arrested by ICE agents. Her deportation away from her husband and children is now imminent.
Marinela is from El Salvador, and was sent here with her two sisters ten years ago, when her father began receiving death threats. She has no criminal record and attempted to apply for asylum when she arrived, but the application was denied in 2007. Because she was past the age of 16 when she arrived, Marinela is ineligible for deferred action/DACA, President Obama’s program protecting DREAMers from deportation. A broader executive action, which had been anticipated before the end of September, would likely have protected Marinela and other parents of US-born children, but Obama’s decision to delay that announcement leaves families like Marinela’s in danger.
Marinela, her husband Neri, and her lawyer were part of an America’s Voice press call last week highlighting stories from families facing impending separation. If Marinela is deported, her three US-citizen children would be uprooted to El Salvador, while Neri stays behind in Ohio to work and support them. As Marinela said according to the Columbus Dispatch:
I don’t want to leave my adopted country. We have nothing in El Salvador, and what kind of life can I give my children in a country ravaged by violence and gang activity?
I can’t do it without her. We’re not criminal. We just want to raise our kids. They love this country, and so do we.
Marinela’s lawyer, Fatin Askar, said that she should never have been targeted for deportation:
[ICE's] own policy of prosecutorial discretion states that individuals who have no criminal history, have U.S.-citizen family members and pose no risk to national security should not be targeted for deportation. It’s overkill and a waste of taxpayer dollars to spend millions to house and deport these law-abiding immigrants.”