An infuriated Houston police chief blew up Friday on Twitter after an 11-year-old girl was ordered to be deported without her family.
Chief Art Acevedo vented about the lack of human decency and “Nazis” enforcing laws following a story Thursday in the Houston Chronicle about the ordered deportation to El Salvador of Laura Maradiaga. Somehow the girl’s name was left off of court records when the family arrived for a hearing in Houston as part of their quest for asylum, according to her mother, Dora Alvarado.
“I feel bad because I don’t want to be separated from my family,” Laura said in Spanish at a news conference Thursday aired onHouston’s KHOU-TV. “I don’t want to be taken away from my mom.”
“This is heart-wrenching,” wrote Acevedo. “1,000 points of light? Family values? American values? Judeo-Christian values? If you’re a person of faith, speak out.”
When someone responded that the girl was apparently breaking the law, the police chief answered: “The Nazis enforced their laws as well. You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! You’d have to kill me to take my child from me simply because I was trying to get them to a better place for a better tomorrow. I am glad to be on the right side of history.”
The family’s attorney blamed the deportation order on an error and poor oversight by a branch of the Justice Department charged with supervising the overwhelmed immigration courts.
“This mistake done by the immigration court has put this family in jeopardy,” said lawyer Silvia Mintz. “They will be separated if this is not stopped.”
Mintz has filed a motion to reopen the case.
A government representative confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that the court ordered Wednesday that Laura Maradiaga-Alvarado be deported. He said she failed to show up at a March 12 asylum hearing — though both she and her mother insist they came together along with Laura’s sister. Mintz suspects Laura’s name was mistakenly left off the document when the family’s hearing was rescheduled from February to March because of the partial government shutdown.
“I hope the judge can see it was a clear mistake on behalf of the court,” Mintz said. “I don’t think it was ill-intentioned, but it shows how overworked these courts are.”
Laura’s family is seeking asylum in the U.S. to escape gang violence in El Salvador.