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September 17, 2006

5th Grader Could Be Deported Without Mom

By Peter Prengaman, The Associated Press, Sunday, September 10, 2006
"LOS ANGELES -- At the age of just 8, Jonathan Martinez and a teenage cousin set out from El Salvador to the United States in search of his mother, whom he hadn't seen for four years. U.S. Border Patrol agents caught Jonathan trying to cross the border into Arizona and turned him over to his mother.

Now 10, he's learned English, joined a soccer team and generally embraced life as an American fifth grader _ except that Jonathan isn't here legally, and on Monday a judge could order him deported back to El Salvador. Though his mother has been living and working legally near Los Angeles, a wrinkle in immigration law doesn't let her apply to keep him here.

"I don't want to go back because I'll be alone," said Jonathan.
His case illustrates a growing problem with the federal program known as "temporary protective status" under which Jonathan's mother is staying in the United States: what to do with thousands of kids from Central America who come to the United States illegally to join their parents. The program provides legal residency to illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, all countries that have suffered devastating natural disasters in recent years. The idea is that they have little to return to and that they can best serve their homelands by working here and sending money home.

But only immigrants in the United States when a program starts _ for Salvadorans, after two major earthquakes in 2001 _ are eligible. That means children who come later to join parents don't qualify.
"It's only for an individual in the United States at the time it was designated," said Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Marie Sebrechts".

© 2006 The Associated Press

Posted by VisaLawyer at September 17, 2006 02:38 PM

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