Mother of four US-born children faces deportation
Salt Lake City —
(KUTV) Maria Santiago, 40, hopes officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, heed the requests of supporters who stood outside the immigration court building chanting on behalf of Maria and her four minor children.
“Maria and her family are welcome here,” chanted the crowd outside the gate of the immigration court in West Valley on Monday.
The single mother, who has been in the U.S. for 14 years, faces deportation.
Her attorney, Gage Herbst, said he will file a petition asking the court to stay her removal from the U.S., although under the current president, deportations of parents with U.S.-born children are more common.
Under the past administration, parents like Santiago were low-priority for deportation.
“I don’t want to be separated from my children,” said Santiago of the idea of leaving the country without her children.
She won’t leave them.
In Guatemala, she was orphaned at a young aged and suffered abuse. She fled the violence in that country and found refuge and peace in the U.S.
“I found security here,” she said.
According to Herbst, in the past, immigration officials recognized that deporting Santiago would have a detrimental effect on her children.
For years, she reported to immigration officials on a regular basis, hoping one day she could achieve permanent residency.
Recently, she was served with a deportation order.
Her children, ages 11, 9, 5 and 3 -- all born in Utah -- would have no choice but to leave with their mother to Guatemala.
Sarai, 9, said she is stressed over the idea of going to Guatemala.
Her 11-year-old brother Patrick said he wants to study computer science when he gets older, but he doesn’t want to leave his mom.
“I don’t want to stay here without my mom cause I want someone who takes care of us,” he said.