When 19-year-old Lizandro Claros Saravia received a scholarship to attend and play soccer at North Carolina’s Louisburg College, he couldn’t have known that he was about to set off a chain reaction that would conclude with him and his 22-year-old brother, Diego, getting deported to their native El Salvador. Alas, under the new regime, that’s exactly what happened, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported the two brothers–who entered the country without documentation in 2009 but had been granted reprieves until now–in what their lawyer, Nick Katz, is calling “the fastest deportation process he has ever seen,” according to the Washington Post.
“The ICE agents told me they were deporting the kids because Lizandro got into college, and that showed they intended to stay in the US,” Katz said. The younger Claros Savaria brother had actually appealed to ICE after receiving the scholarship, as he believed it would show that he’s an asset to what he hoped would be his adopted country. To Lizandro, this must have seemed like just another “voluntary check-in,” similar to the ones that he initiated as a condition for staying in the country under the Obama administration as a child refugee feeling violence in El Salvador.
Under Trump, however, the bar for immigrants has been raised to unrealistic levels (exhibit A: the proposed RAISE Act, which would prioritize English-speaking, college-educated immigrants) while even more people are getting deported–a result of the January 25th Executive Order– so that even Lizandro, an elite prospect with college aspirations, does not qualify to stay in the country.
Since the brothers got deported, Lizandro’s old soccer club team, the Bethesda Soccer Club, has protested in their defense, while also raising funds to help the pair acclimate to their new old home in El Salvador. ““We’re all disgusted by the government,” said one of Lizandro’s teammates, Matt Di Rosa, to the Washington Post. “We’re going to keep pushing and try to help Lizandro even if he is not here.”
Katz and his firm, CASA de Maryland, is also planning a protest on the White House itself, which is scheduled to take place on August 15th. Maryland’s junior senator, Chris Van Hollen, tweeted a thread earlier this month about the situation, admonishing Trump and ICE for deporting members of a “hardworking immigrant” family.
Shame on President Trump for tearing apart hardworking immigrant families. We should be focused on MS-13, not scholarship winners.
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) August 2, 2017