At 18 years old, Henry is not sure he’ll have much of a future. After working with the FBI and revealing telling information about the inner workings of MS-13, he’s at risk of deportation. This week, Henry headed to his final asylum hearing, and as publications shed light on the injustices committed against him, actor Efren Ramirez is calling out the government’s complicity in Henry’s fate.
When Henry came to the United States from El Salvador, he hoped to put his past as a member of MS-13 – an international street gang – behind him. And for some time, he did. He made a new set of friends and juggled school and work in Long Island. But when he started his sophomore year at Brentwood High School, the distance he had built between himself and MS-13 closed, according to ProPublica.
Forced to continue being a member of the gang, Henry was filled with anxiety and one day wrote a letter to his teacher, confessing everything. That eventually led to Henry working with the FBI, with the teen providing information about MS-13 members in exchange for protection – or so he thought. Instead, Henry landed in immigrant detention center and is at risk of being deported, where he believes he’ll be killed. But if he’s released and doesn’t get help starting over, he also believes he’ll wind up dead.
In an interview with TMZ, Ramirez – a part Salvi actor best known for his role in Napoleon Dynamite – said the government betrayed him. “The fact that he actually risked his life to give information that he knew and was promised to be protected, I think that should be upheld,” he said. “It’s a tragedy. You think about that he was promised that his life was going to be OK. Now the fact that he’s not only being held up but possibly deported back to El Salvador, where MS-13, that’s where it started from.” (MS-13 actually originated in Los Angeles.)
When asked if the United States would be responsible if he is killed, Ramirez added, “I think this country would be accountable, and it’s a tragedy. What are we trying to show? I really feel bad in regards to Henry and everything that’s going on with him, his tragedy from El Salvador to here. He came to this country in hopes that he could do something positive.”
Check out the full interview below.