- Associated Press - Thursday, December 14, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Guatemalan woman who is set to be deported on Dec. 26 is planning to spend the end of Christmas night at the Salt Lake City airport with her four kids to catch a flight back to her native country unless she gets a last-minute reprieve.

Maria Santiago Garcia spoke Wednesday at a candlelight vigil in Salt Lake City where about 40 supporters cried and prayed for Garcia, The Salt Lake Tribune reports .

Garcia says her four children ages 3 to 11 are U.S. citizens but will go with her to Guatemala so they can stay together. She says she’s worried after living 15 years in the U.S. about violence and a lack of opportunities in Guatemala.

“It’s difficult because in the U.S., you experience hardships, but it’s nothing like that of my country,” Garcia said through an interpreter. “Here you can get a job and make $10 an hour, while over there I can work the whole day and make the same amount.”

Garcia was first ordered to leave by a federal judge in 2006, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok. She was given a six-month delay to get travel documents in 2014. In June 2015, her bid to reopen her case and avoid deportation was denied.

“Pursuing repeated stays is not a viable means for an alien to permanently postpone their required return to their country of origin,” Rusnok said in a statement.

Garcia has requested another stay of removal but her attorney has told her it’s unlikely she will get one.

“I’m waiting for a miracle,” Garcia said.

A Utah immigrant advocacy group called Unidad Inmigrante is helping to bring attention to Garcia’s case and raised $1,845 to help the family get started in Guatemala.

“These are not criminals, these are families,” said Cynda Nygaard, a supporter at the vigil.

Garcia’s 9-year-old daughter, Sarai Reyes, said she’s worried her dreams of becoming a doctor will be dashed but said she’s going to try to learn hard work by watching the Guatemalans.

Garcia said she doesn’t blame the entire U.S government and cherishes the time’s she’s spent in the country.

“There is a broken system and there are a few select people that continue to make it more difficult for people like me,” Garcia said.

___

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide