Deported Nicaraguan mother hopeful case will be reviewed

January 30, 2009

MANAGUA – Nicaraguan Maricela Soza, who was deported last week from the United States, where she had been living with her two children, said she is hopeful U.S. authorities will review her case so that she can be reunited with her family.

Soza, the mother of Cecia, 12, and Ronald, 9, who on Monday began a hunger strike to prevent their mother´s deportation, said she did not support the minors´ protest measure.

“The hunger strike has now ended and I managed to speak with them (Thursday) and they´re fine, thank God, even though we´re apart,” Maricela said in Managua, where relatives have taken her in.

Her children, one born in the United States after Soza arrived there in 1997 illegally and the other a legal resident, are in the care of an uncle, Fausto Soza, and Nora Sandigo, executive director of American Fraternity, a Miami-based immigrant-rights organization whose headquarters was the place where the children staged the hunger strike.

The case comes as last year´s U.S. immigration law reform plans re-enter the spotlight, and Latin Americans residing both within and outside U.S. borders wait to see what a new Democratic administration could mean for the country´s immigration policy.

“We´re trying to see what can be done, if there´s some way to go back (to the U.S. ), by way of the the president (of the U.S., Barack Obama). Maybe he´ll approve a law or something like that,” Soza told Nicaraguan daily El Nuevo Diario.

Meanwhile, Soza, 32, is awaiting news about her case in the Nicaraguan capital and said she is sure that if it is reopened and reviewed the problem will be resolved and she will be able to return and see her children.

The woman said she spoke Thursday with her husband, Ronald Soza, who is in hiding because he also does not have legal status, adding that he is in close contact with their attorney, Alfonso Oviedo-Reyes, about everything related to the case.

Speaking about her situation in Nicaragua, Maricela said that thus far the government has not offered her assistance nor has she requested any.

She said she has no plans in Nicaragua and that, if she returns to the United States, she will do so legally.

Soza had the chance to present her case before a U.S. immigration judge, but the latter ruled against her and ordered her to be deported, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Miami said.

The Nicaraguan, who was taken into custody by immigration agents on Dec. 19 in Pompano Beach, north of Miami, as she was going home after taking Cecia to catch the school bus, had been held in a South Florida immigration detention center for 42 days.

The Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry, for its part, said Thursday that “there is no official reaction” to the case of the deportee.

The Soza children began their hunger strike three days after American Fraternity asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an injunction suspending the deportations of undocumented parents until immigration reform is approved by Congress.

Filing the motion was attorney and Fraternidad Americana President Alfonso Oviedo-Reyes, who is representing the children pro bono. He says that the deportation of undocumented parents of the plaintiffs is a violation of the civil rights of the minors.

He said that before 1996, minors with parents in this situation had the right to go to court and have their immigration status resolved if they could fulfill three conditions: having lived in the country for more than seven years, being of good moral character and showing that the children would suffer if their parents were deported.

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