On Friday morning, Durham resident and former Riverside High student Wendy Miranda Fernandez was taken from the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana, put on a plane, and sent back to an uncertain fate in her native El Salvador, which she fled at the age of fourteen to escape gang violence.
Last year, after her application for asylum in the U.S. was denied, she received an order for removal from the country. In March, the twenty-three-year-old Miranda Fernandez was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Her attorney has been seeking to reopen her asylum case and win a stay of deportation.
Daniela Hernandez Blanco of the advocacy group Alerta Migratoria NC told the INDY Friday morning that the office of U.S. Representative G.K. Butterfield, who was instrumental in helping Durham teenager Wildin Acosta avoid deportation last year, had been in contact with ICE on Miranda Fernandez's behalf, but "they aren't budging."
"For weeks, my staff and I worked with ICE officials on Ms. Miranda-Fernandez's behalf," Butterfield said in a statement after the deportation. "Through that work, my staff and I were able to delay Ms. Miranda-Fernandez's removal for several weeks in the hope that her motion before the Board of Immigration Appeals could be fully considered. That motion remains pending before the BIA. Her removal, despite Ms. Miranda-Fernandez not having the opportunity to exhaust all her legal options, is extremely disheartening."
Here is ICE's version of the deportation, according to spokesman Bryan Cox: "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed unlawfully present Salvadoran national Wendy Miranda-Fernandez May 26 pursuant to a final order of removal issued by a federal immigration judge in August 2016. Ms. Miranda was removed after receiving all appropriate legal process before the federal immigration courts.
"ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security. However, as [Department of Homeland Security Secretary John] Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt entire classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All those in violation of immigration law may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."
In other words, even though Miranda Fernandez had no criminal record, posed no threat to anyone, had a fiancé and a decade's worth of roots here, and came to the U.S. to escape a gang, MS-13, that President Trump himself has labeled a public enemy, immigration authorities decided to detain her, imprison her, and ship her back to El Salvador, just because.
Hell of a system we've got here.
This article appeared in print with the headline "+RULES ARE RULES."