Lizandro Claros Saravia, a promising nineteen-year-old soccer player slated to attend North Carolina’s Louisburg College on a scholarship, was deported back to his native El Salvador yesterday, The Washington Post reported—the same day the White House announced plans to limit legal immigration to the United States.
Saravia had been living with his twenty-two-year-old brother, Diego, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The two came to the country without documentation in 2009. Although they were both granted stays of removal from deportation in 2013, later applications to renew the stays were denied. On Friday, they were detained by ICE agents at their routine check-in, the attorney representing the pair told the Post. They were deported five days later, which the attorney said was the fastest deportation process he had ever seen.
“The ICE agents told me they were deporting the kids because Lizandro got into college, and that showed they intended to stay in the U.S.,” he said.
Yesterday, the brothers were put on a plane to El Salvador, which was named the murder capital of the hemisphere last year, with more than sixty-six hundred homicides in a population of six million.
Although a spokesman for ICE told the Post the brothers would not have been priorities for deportation under the Obama administration (neither had criminal records), the Trump administration has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and has already ramped up arrests of undocumented immigrants without criminal records.
People who knew the brothers had fond memories. Diego, who took extra classes to graduate from his high school on time, had a “heart of gold,” a former teacher told the Post, and another woman who worked with the brothers as an ESL tutor said they “excelled.” A teammate of Lizandro said players were “disgusted by the government.” On Monday, the team gathered outside the Department of Homeland Security to protest the deportations.
“I’m very upset to report that ICE has moved forward with deporting Diego and Lizandro despite our community’s continued efforts,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland tweeted yesterday. “Maryland was stronger with Diego & Lizandro contributing to our society, & my heart goes out to them & their family at this difficult time.”
“The young man was enrolled in Louisburg College, and we certainly hope that he will meet whatever obligations he has to be here, but Louisburg college does not inquire about a person’s immigration status when we make acceptances,” Boyd Sturges, the general counsel for Louisburg College, told the INDY. Sturges said the school has not received any updates about Lizandro’s deportation.