A father of three was deported Wednesday after being held by ICE in Dallas, according to his attorneys.
Mario Amaya lived in the U.S. without legal status and tried to fight his deportation to El Salvador saying he feared for his life if he was sent back to his country of origin.
Mario Amaya was detained Feb. 10 while visiting his stepson at Kaufman County jail, according to his attorneys.
Amaya was threatened by gangs and took work on ships to avoid being recruited; he eventually sought out safety in the United States.
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“Mario [was] very involved with the community at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church”, said Anna Garcia, attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
Through his representatives, Amaya said if he was sent back to El Salvador he could be killed for refusing to join the gangs.
“Mr. Amaya's detention is an example of the new administration priorities to make immigrants unsafe anywhere in our country by forcing local law enforcement to act as immigration agents,” Raices said.
The organization said Tuesday that they hoped Amaya would be granted asylum and that his deportation would be canceled.
Amaya’s children are in the process of requesting asylum in the United States because they fear threats and harm in El Salvador, but now that he was ordered deportation their applications could have a negative impact, according to Raices.
His son, Mario Jr., also requires ongoing medical treatment for severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.
In a news release Tuesday, they described him as “a devoted Catholic and hardworking, loving father of three children” who was an “active member of his church community” at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Farmers Branch.
In an impassioned plea to prevent her father's deportation, his daughter wrote the following: "My Dad sets a good example; he is a man of faith and has shown me how to be a young woman of faith as well. I trust my Dad and he and I have trust to where if I have a problem, I know I can go to him first. My Dad is my everything, the way he shows us he cares about us and makes us feel as if we are his everything; it's a level of care and love that I don't think anyone else could give us."
The group “Faith in Texas” rallied outside the ICE office in Dallas Tuesday to protest Amaya’s upcoming deportation.
"He did not commit any crime...He only had a deportation order from many years ago", said Nicolas Hernandez, a member from Raices who supported the father of three.
Our sister station Telemundo 39 also reached out to ICE Tuesday regarding Amaya’s case and the following statement was received:
“Mario Amaya-Alvarez, 37, from El Salvador, has been in ICE custody since Feb. 10, 2018. A federal immigration judge ordered him removed in absentia on March 31, 2005. An immigration judge denied Amaya-Alvarez’s motion to reopen his immigration case on March 6, 2018. ICE denied his request for a stay of removal on March 7, 2018. His April 3, 2018, request for another stay of removal is pending with ICE.”