A mother of two named Kenia is set to be deported from the U.S. after seeking asylum there from violence in El Salvador in 2004, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday. She has lived in the U.S. for 15 years, but she could be deported as soon as Thursday because of the Trump administration’s rapidly escalating violence toward asylum seekers.
In the U.S., Kenia, 38, who withheld her last name out of safety concerns, has worked in a restaurant and also worked taking care of the elderly as well as children with disabilities. She has two sons, ages 19 and 21.
Kenia had applied for a U visa, meant to protect asylum seekers who are victims of crimes and come forward to work with law enforcement. She does not have any criminal record. A survivor of domestic abuse, she fears returning to a place that she has been able to escape for so long.
“What’s the point of a U visa if it doesn’t help people like me?” Kenia said to BuzzFeed News. “I just want a chance. ... I’m afraid I’ll be killed if I’m sent back to El Salvador.”
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office director allegedly told Kenia that “in light of ICE’s mission, current ICE policies and enforcement priorities” there was “no compelling reason” for her not to be deported. She was arrested by ICE officers in May.
She had been detained near her family and attorney at the Caroline County Detention Center in Virginia, but was moved to the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana, on Monday.
Her attorney, Eileen Blessinger, said that the decision was shocking. She said that Kenia had received a notice to appear in immigration court, but it did not include the location or the time. Because she didn’t show up, a judge ruled that she be deported.
The Trump administration has released a series of rules targeting vulnerable asylum seekers. This is only a tiny sliver of the extent of the cruelty of the government toward vulnerable people, made worse in Kenia’s case by the fact that the U.S. has mercilessly sent violence deep into El Salvador through military training, aid, and a CIA presence without any consequences.
“This definitely has to come down to the new policy,” Blessinger told BuzzFeed. “Kenia is the perfect example of someone who should have a stay of removal granted.”
“This is going to affect the entire judicial system with fewer people coming forward to report crimes and more criminals remaining free,” she added. “Kenia’s story is not just about Kenia. It’s about how this is going to affect people in general.”