At just nine years old, Fernando Ochoa is fighting to stop his father’s deportation, fearing that he might break away from him for the third time, despite a 100-day ban on deportation imposed by President Joe Biden and a Family reunion task force.
On Wednesday morning, outside an immigration court, Fernando delivered a letter to his lawyer, in which he wrote to Biden in Spanish to “tell me from my heart that you set my father free.”
Fernando and his father, Ublo Ochoa Lopez, fled Guatemala two years ago to seek asylum in the US, but their search for asylum turned into a nightmare after they were separated on the southern border.
Fernando was one of at least 2,800 migrant children who separated from their parents in 2018, when former President Donald Trump’s administration launched a “zero tolerance” policy in an effort to prevent migrants from seeking asylum in the US Had.
He was only 6 years old at the time of separation. Two months later, Fernando and his father were reunited.
His lawyer, Andani Alcantara, said, “During the first 35 days of those two months, Ubaldo could not contact Fernando. So those 35 days of zero contact did not indicate what the two were doing.” A press conference on wednesday.
Once again, Ochoa Lopez and his son resumed their legal efforts to find asylum in the US, but were separated for a second time.
Fernando and his father were separated in October when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained Ochoa Lopez after pleading guilty to drunk driving a month earlier, according to Alcantara.
“It was only a Class B misdemeanor, but the ICE considered it a very big crime and decided that it was a good enough reason to not allow Ubalado to live with his child who is another parent in the US No, “she said. .
Ochoa Lopez is at the Pearsall Detention Center in Texas for four months now.
During the press conference, Advocate’s organization head Erica Andiola said Rice, an immigrant rights advocacy group in Texas, is helping Fernando in his asylum case, as well as urging him to reunite with his father.
Andiola said it’s important to note that Ochoa Lopez “went through the criminal justice system” when he was indicted and convicted last year.
“If it belonged to someone else, who was born in this country, if he was another person, he would probably return with his son, but he is not. He would be punished twice for something he did. What has already happened – even we, as after that. One country snatched away its child.
“I am very sad with my father who is not with me. During Christmas, I was sad for my father who was not with me. It makes me very sad to see other parents playing with their children. Because I can’t play with myself. ” Neither Dad nor my dad get a hug, ”Fernando wrote in his letter to Biden.
Alcantara said it had fulfilled several requests from the ICE to block the release of Ochoa Lopez, most recently on Monday with President Joe Biden’s administration announcing new guidelines concerning immigration enforcement priorities. Public safety guidelines for immigration enforcement call for giving priority to those “who have been convicted of an ‘aggravated felony.”
“The reality is that anyone in the ICE always has the discretion to abstain from detention and they choose not to do so.” “He is harming his child, who is nine years old and cries on the phone with Ubaldo as he has not seen his father for so long.”
“They are choosing to keep a parent and child separated which they had already separated and become painful,” Alcantara said.
ICE has not responded to NBC News emails.
Biden went on to run for his presidency, criticizing Trump’s tough immigration policies as well as record deportations under former President Barack Obama when he was vice president.
There has been an urgent push by progressive supporters and immigration advocates to do things differently.
An initial Biden executive order ordering a 100-day moratorium on deportation until an enforcement review could be conducted was suspended by a federal judge in response to a Texas lawsuit. But the regime did not require the ICE to schedule deportations. The agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has sent at least 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras in recent times.
More deportation flights are scheduled for Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cameroon and Honduras for this week, in addition to last week deportation for a woman from Mexico, who is involved in the 2019 anti-Latino mass shooting, at the Walmart store in Texas Anti-Latino mass shooting witnessed.
“, If Ubaldo is deported back to Guatemala, Fernando is left here with no parents, which is quite damaging in itself, but given his history of pre-forced separation by the government, it It would be really harmful for her, ”Alcantara said. The child will be left “to fight the asylum case on its own”.
Against this backdrop, a group of 120 law professors and legal experts called on the Biden administration to hold ICE officers responsible for executive orders and other directives to rebuild the immigration system respecting human rights and due process Reflect the president’s intentions. , “The group said in a press release on Tuesday. They sent a letter to newly confirmed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from their agency” to comply with the Biden administration’s internal enforcement immigration policies and prevent the continued deportation of asylum seekers and families Urged the prosecution to use all means of discretion of the prosecution. “
He warns continued practices “will inevitably result in a continuation of enforcement practices that send asylum seekers back to their oppressors and destabilize families and communities.”
Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter And Instagram.