The face of a pretty nine-year-old brunette with a shy smile pops up on the computer screen.
She looks like any other elementary school student.
Not like a child whose future hangs in the balance. Not like a child who is the face of an online campaign to keep her only parent in the United States.
Through a series of complicated events nine-year-old Enid Aquirre, lives in limbo. Although she is a U.S. citizen, her mother Hortencia Aguirre Verduzco is not.
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On May 8, U.S. Immigration Judge Dan Pelletier issued a deportation order for Aguirre Verduzco to be sent to Mexico. She was arrested in October for “being an alien unlawfully in possession of a firearm,” according to Immigration Customs and Enforcement.
But the case isn’t as clear cut as it seems, argues Aguirre Verduzco’s attorney and friends who have launched an online and media campaign to keep her in the country. More than 1,800 people have signed a change.org petition asking for ICE officials and U.S. congressional leaders to halt deportation proceedings.
Friends like Miranda Mays say Aguirre Verduzco is a hardworking woman who owns her own business, gives back to the Morrisville community and is a dedicated mother.
“She’s like family to us,” Mays said. “She’s the most loyal, sweetest, hardwoking person we know. She doesn’t deserve this injustice. We want her to be able to stay with her daughter who missed her tremendously.”
She is a victim of fraud, said her immigration attorney Paul Suhr.
Aguirre Verduzco isn’t being deported because she crossed the border illegally. She has a so-called green card or permanent resident card in her name.
The problem as immigration officials see it, is that the papers were obtained fraudulently, Suhr said.
The sticking point is that Aguirre Verduzco is from Mexico, and her papers, granted under asylum, say she is from Malacatan, Guatemala. She left her true hometown of Tiquicheo, in the Mexican state of Michoacan, in 1992, using a visitor’s visa to enter the United States.
It’s unclear if the error on her green card application was intentional by the lawyer who filed the application on her behalf. At the time she didn’t speak English.
Because her papers were not accurately obtained, when Aguirre Verduzco received a gun permit a few years ago – after a series of break-ins in her community – she broke federal law.
She came to ICE’s attention as part of an ongoing investigation, said ICE spokesman Vincent Picard.
Aguirre Verduzco on the advice of another attorney pleaded guilty to the felony firearms charge April 10 and was sentenced to time served. But the guilty plea that reduced her jail time also made her eligible for deportation.
Suhr said he has until June 7 to file an appeal to Pelletier’s ruling.
Aguirre Verduzco’s deportation order bars her from ever entering the U.S. again. If it stands, Enid’s future is unclear. Enid could stay in the U.S. with her uncle or go to Mexico, where opportunities could be limited.
Because Enid was conceived with a sperm donor, it will be nearly impossible for her to get a passport to visit her mother if she is sent to Mexico, Suhr said. Passports for minors require parental consent, something out of reach for a child whose only parent is out of the country.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office was sent a package asking to halt the deportation. Spokesman Jack Pfeiffer said it was against policy to comment on constituent cases.
Aguirre Verduzco waits to learn her fate at a detention center in Gainesville, Ga. – 357 miles from her daughter.
For more information visit www.saveenidsmommy.com.