Immigrant Stories: Roxsana, Samuel, Maria, Javier, Wilder, and more

Caution migrants wikipedia

California road sign, from Wikipedia, public domain.

Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez left Honduras seeking refuge in the United States because of persecution because she is transgender. U.S. immigration officials put her in detention, where she was severely beaten. She also developed severe vomiting and diarrhea, but did not receive medical attention for days.  By the time she was finally transferred to a hospital, it was too late—she died in the country where she had sought safety.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno has been living in sanctuary in a Methodist church in North Carolina for a year. Then USCIS summoned him to talk about deferred deportation.

“Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina suggested in a statement that Friday’s biometrics appointment may have been a trap set by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to lure Oliver-Bruno out of the church. ICE generally will not arrest anyone who is inside a church, hospital or school.

“It appears ICE has acted in concert with officials at USCIS, who instructed Mr. Oliver-Bruno to appear at local USCIS offices to discuss his deferred deportation,” the congressmen said. “He was then apprehended by plainclothes ICE agents upon entering the building. At best, Mr. Oliver-Bruno was presented with a catch-22 dilemma; at worst, he was entrapped.”

Maria Cáceres brought 15-year-old Javier with her on the long trek to the U.S. border with the Central American caravan. Javier is 15 years old and has Downs Syndrome.

“María tells me how they fled San Pedro Sula after gang members constantly harassed her family for bribes and “taxes”. When they couldn’t pay, some men burned down their house, then murdered her two brothers. María had just finished burying them when – on 12 October – the caravan formed in the center of town. Traumatized, she left her two other children with relatives and told Javier it was time to go. The two of them joined the exodus with only the clothes on their backs.”

Juan is walking with his six-year-old daughter Lesly—sometimes pushing her in a too-small, dilapidated stroller, sometimes carrying her. She has cerebral palsy.

“One night they found us,” he says. “When I was at work, a man broke into my apartment and raped my wife.”

“Lesly had sat in the room and witnessed the whole thing. For days his wife stayed home and cried. The rapist was a notorious gang member, and Juan knew that he would die trying to avenge her. Instead he called the police, who did nothing. When the man discovered Juan had snitched, there was no choice but to leave – but there was Lesly, who was all but paralyzed since she was two.”

Wilder Hilario Maldonado Cabrera is six years old. He stood before the judge in immigration court in San Antonio just before Thanksgiving, all alone. He has been separated from his father since June. They were arrested after crossing the border illegally, and his father’s plea for asylum was denied. He is now appealing that denial, and in jail until his appeal is heard. He has asked to be reunited with Wilder, but the U.S. government says no. They say he is not fit to be a parent because he has a 10-year-old DUI warrant from Florida. What will happen to Wilder? No one knows. The judge continued his case, so that an attorney can be found to speak for him in court.

“Wilder, I wish you well,” he said, sending the boy off to uncertainty. “We’ll see you soon.”

“Wilder, a huge Spider-Man fan, waved at the judge, then pretended he was shooting spiderwebs from his wrists. On his way out, he waved to the friendly bailiff and said, “Bye policía.”

And this week’s highlighted stories from FWD.US’s human consequences tracker:

IA Resident Jairo Morales, El Salvador Native and TPS Holder Fears Deportation If His Pending  U-Visa Application is Denied Jairo Morales, who is deaf, and his mother, Flor Morales, are TPS holders from El Salvador. Morales’ mother hoped that moving to the United States would provide her son with a better sign language education. In 2001, Morales and his family received TPS, which is set to end next year. Six years ago, Jairo was assaulted with a crowbar at his family home, leaving him with several wounds on his head. He since initiated a U-Visa petition for himself and his family, however, the Des Moines Police Department has refused to sign his U-Visa certification disagreeing on the merits of the application. [Des Moines Register, 11/29/18]

Oakland Nurse and Mother of Three, Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, Hopes to Return to the United States After Being Deported Last Year. Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, a nurse who lived and worked in Oakland, California, and her husband were deported to Mexico in 2017. The couple has three children, two of which are U.S. citizens and one is a DACA recipient. Their son suffers from congenital heart disease, and under the Obama Administration they were given a stay from deportation. Unfortunately last year they were deported leaving behind their children and their home of 20 years, despite protests from nurses, doctors and union members in their community, as well as the hardship their family would face. Her previous employer has applied for a H-1B visa on her behalf, and she currently waits for a final decision from USCIS. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/28/18; PRI, 7/25/18]

Two NJ Fathers, Who Were Arrested By ICE While They Were Taking Their Children To School, Released After 10 Months in Detention Roby Sanger, from Indonesia, was detained by ICE after dropping his two daughters off at school and Gunawan Liem was detained after he dropped his daughter off at the school bus stop. Sanger and Liem are part of a community of ethnic Chinese Christians who fled religious persecution in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority nation, in the 1990s and early 2000s and remained in the United States. The two Indonesian fathers were released from jail in Newark after posting bond on November 15th, a day after a federal immigration judge ruled they could be released while they fight their immigration case. [USA Today, 11/15/18]

Maria and Her 16-year Old Son Were Arrested By ICE Agents When They Arrived For A Hearing At Courthouse For A Domestic-violence Dispute Against Her Ex-fiance; Her Deportation Case has Been Dismissed. Maria had taken out a protective order against the man and had moved her family, including her 2 year old, into a domestic-violence shelter. According to her attorney, ICE agents cuffed the pair, leaving behind Maria’s 2-year-old son at the courthouse daycare facility. Maria overstayed her visa after coming from Colombia and ICE claims her deportation order was triggered because she was the defendant in a case, but was released later that day to be reunited with her child. [Charlotte Observer, 7/20/18]

Update: On November 21, 2018, the date Maria attended her deportation hearing, she received a letter from ICE stating that her case had been dismissed. With her deportation case dismissed, she is seeking to apply for a U-Visa. [Charlotte Observer, 11/28/18]

In August Syed A. Jamal, Married Father of Three U.S. Citizen Born Children Was Granted a Reprieve From Deportation For a Few Months. Jamal is a professor at Donnelly College whose work visa had expired unbeknownst to him. He had been previously allowed to stay on the condition that he would report regularly to ICE, which he did up to the week he was suddenly arrested in his driveway while preparing to take his daughter to school. Jamal’s arrest triggered legislative action by U.S. Congressman Yoder, Jenkins, and Cleaver to shield Jamal and his family from deportation by introducing a private bill that is pending approval. [Kansas City, 8/14/18]

Update: On 11/27/18 a judge ruled to postpone Jamal’s case until April 2022. [KMBC News, 11/27/18]

Real people. Real stories. Really awful human consequences of our immigration policies. .


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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