Two brothers living in Gaithersburg, Maryland—19-year-old Lizandro Claros Saravia and 22-year-old Diego Saravia—were deported to El Salvador on Wednesday after one of them notified local Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents during a routing check-in that he’d gotten into college, the Washington Post reports.
Lizandro and Diego initially won reprieves from deportation after entering the country without US citizenship in 2009, however their requests to be granted stays of removal have been denied since 2013. Since immigrating, the brothers have been taking classes at local high schools, and Lisandro recently learned he’d won a scholarship to play soccer at a North Carolina college. Neither brother has a criminal record.
On Friday, the brothers visited ICE agents in Baltimore for a routine check-in, but were unexpectedly detained. The brothers’ lawyer, Nick Katz, told the Washington Post, “The ICE agents told me they were deporting the kids because Lizandro got into college, and that showed they intended to stay in the US.
Diego and Lizando were greeted in El Salvador by aunts and grandparents, but their immediate family—parents, brother, and sister—remain in the US, worried sick. The brothers’ mother, Lucia Saravia, said at press conference on Wednesday, “They have separated my family. We were together, and we were very happy.”
Heather Bradley, Diego’s Second Language class teacher who also worked with Lizandro on his school’s literary magazine, told the the Post, “These kids did nothing wrong—but that is too low a bar. These kids excelled.”
Diego and Lizando’s deportation comes amidst Donald Trump’s unveiling of the RAISE Act, which would make it even more difficult for undocumented immigrants to obtain green cards, and prevent new immigrants from collecting welfare. The new law would favor applicants who are wealthier and speak fluent English.