Image from the Loudoun Times Mirror.

Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror

Jose Andrade is a bashful 13-year-old living in Leesburg. He’s a graduate of Catoctin Elementary School, and in a few days, he will have completed seventh grade at J. Lupton Simpson Middle School.

His teachers describe him as a pleasure to have in class, a hard-working student with a positive attitude who takes pride in his work, although on occasion he can be a class clown.

His Boy Scout troop leader calls Jose the most dedicated 13-year-old Scout in the troop.

And when he grows up, he says he wants to be a policeman — mostly because of the cool uniform, but also to help protect people.

But it’s unlikely Jose will be able to realize his dreams.

A native of El Salvador, the teen has until July 16 to leave the country – alone and without his family.

The journey here

Born in Guatajigua, El Salvador, in 1994, the youngster experienced the fallout of the county’s brutal civil war, which had ended in 1992.

His mother, Mirna Andrade, left the country in 2000 to find work in the United States. Jobs were hard to come by in El Salvador, and providing for her family was difficult, she said.

“I was a single mother and it’s difficult to get ahead,” said Mirna, now 33. “I heard that there was work [here].”

Mirna received a visa, allowing her to work in the United States shortly after arriving.

Jose stayed in El Salvador with his mother’s sister’s family.

“I sent him money,” Mirna said, but it wasn’t getting to him.

“They only gave him a quarter. When a week passed, they told him they didn’t have [any] money. This he didn’t tell me.”

Mirna said her sister pulled Jose out of school and used him to run errands, like retrieving water.

“Two months passed that they didn’t send him to school,” she said.

During phone conversations with her, Jose would act timid, Mirna said. She felt something was wrong.

In 2005, 11-year-old Jose, followed his mother’s route to the United States.

She said her son’s education was a primary reason for bringing him here, adding it was important to her that she be with her son.

“I want [my children] to study,” said Mirna, who has two younger children who are U.S. citizens by birth.

“If God allows, [school will] help them realize a good career so that they know how to support themselves.”

The route, which wound from El Salvador to Guatemala, through Mexico and finally across the Rio Grande into Texas, is more than a month’s journey traveling by foot and car, Mirna said.

“We were hungry all the time, and tired,” Jose said.

The youngster traveled with two cousins.

Jose walked across the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas at a shallow point on a hot day in September 2005. He was arrested by federal police awaiting new arrivals on the other side. One cousin did not make it across the border; the other was arrested with Jose and sent back to El Salvador.

“They took us someplace that looked like a jail,” he said.

He was held at a youth detention center in Harlingen, Texas, for nine days, until his mother came and got him.

“I was happy I wasn’t going to be in there anymore,” said Jose, who said he worried he would never see his mom again.

From that point on, the family has fought an uphill legal battle to keep Jose in the United States.

Tough choices

Torn between loosing her son and abandoning her two younger children, Mirna tears up when she talks about having no choice but to let Jose go back to El Salvador without her.

Looking back, she said she had always hoped, but never believed, that Jose would get to stay.

Once he was released into his mother’s custody in 2005, Jose’s case was moved to the Arlington immigration court, which tries cases for residents of Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Since then, the teen has had three hearings on his immigration status.

Seeing no alternative, Jose’s lawyer – L. Christina Carlier, a lawyer for Catholic Immigration Services based in Washington, D.C. — applied for voluntary removal of the teen at his final hearing in March. This allowed Jose and his family to have 120 days to prepare for his departure, and he would be able to come back to the United States for visits.

If he had tried to run or hide, Jose would have been put into another detention center and held until deported. He also would not be allowed to return to the United States for 10 years.

Although voluntary removal was granted, Mirna says it is unlikely Jose will get to visit because the trip is dangerous and expensive.

The 13-year-old cannot legally return to live in the United States until he turns 18 and can apply for a visa.

“I wanted to be with my mom.” Jose said. “I wanted to develop a career. It’s not good to have to leave when your mother is here.”

For the time being, the teen lives in an apartment off Plaza Street with his mother and her fiance, and Jose’s two siblings — brother Hever Garcia, 5, and 1-month-old baby sister Yaritza.

Jose said it’s not fair he should have to leave. He doesn’t fully understand why he’s being asked to go; he said children should get to stay with their parents.

Could he have stayed?

U.S. immigration law prohibits children not born in the United States from living here unless their parents are U.S. citizens, said Immigration Attorney Christina Wilkes, who works for Ayuda.

Ayuda, which means “help” in Spanish, provides legal aid for immigrants seeking legal residence in the United States.

Wilkes said because Jose’s mother was not a citizen, he must return to El Salvador.

Mirna’s work permit, which is valid until 2009, allows her to stay here. Up until Yaritza’s birth, Mirna worked at the Panera Bread restaurant by Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets.

She has applied for a green card, which would allow her to be a permanent U.S. resident, using her brother who is a citizen as a reference.

It could be another 10 to 15 years before Mirna’s green card application is processed. She could have to wait an additional 10 years or more before she can become a citizen, Wilkes said.

“It’s very backlogged,” the attorney said of the immigration courts system. She said this could be the reason why it took the courts three years to deport Jose.

But even if Mirna had a green card and was on the road to citizenship, she would not be able to keep Jose here.

Before applying for voluntary removal, the family tried and failed to gain political asylum status for Jose.

“Over 88 percent of the children who are apprehended across the border come from El Salvador,” Wilkes said.

Many of them, she said, are fleeing violence, domestic abuse or gang recruitment — the results of a civil war that has left El Salvador’s economy, government and security in disarray.

Wilkes said these are reasons why parents who don’t want their children returned to El Salvador apply for political asylum.

At the end of the day, both lawyers said there is nothing else that can be done.

“We tried to do our best to keep the boy here,” said Carlier.

When Jose moves back to El Salvador, he will live with another of his mother’s sisters.

“He will be living with family, but it won’t be the same,” Mirna said. “You want your family to be together.”

Jose said: “It’s not good to be separated from your mom.

Struggling to fight off tears, Mirna said, “I want to have him with me. I will miss him a lot, badly.”

83 Thoughts to “Indefensible – Illegal Scout?”

  1. anon-100

    Sara, 13. June 2008, 13:56 “When I read the anti-immigrant comments above, I am further convinced that the “Help Save” movements ARE about racism and not about immigration.”

    How do you know anyone on here is related to any help save groups? I’m not a frequent blogger here, but I don’t remember seeing anyone state that they are affiliated with ANY group. So why make assumptions here?

  2. Just Cause

    TH, 13. June 2008, 14:34

    In “OUR CULTURE” we don’t have a heart, just laws! (sarcastic comment…)


    Nope..In our Culture we protect our young…Family first.

  3. Just Cause

    Marie- Standing up for my family and protecting my rights and the rights of my children classify’s me as “having no heart”??

    Just because I dont shed a tear at every “sad Story” I have heard in the past 6 months doesnt make me heartless, It makes me CAUTIOUS.


  4. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    This young man is clearly a racist!

  5. Censored bybvbl

    If the woman in the article had an agenda (of keeping her son in the US by creating sympathy for his plight), more power to her even if her reasoning is obvious in the WaPo’s coverage. She’s certainly a better mother than a former neighbor of mine who tried to pimp her eleven year old daughter out for drugs. She, the former neighbor, could tell her story too but I’d have little/no sympathy.

    Rick Bentley, you imply that the average American has little power over our Big Business overlords yet you expect people (often peasants) to go back to El Salvador or Mexico and transforn their governments. Why do you have such hope for them and not the average Joe Blow here?

  6. Elena

    Just Cause,
    “AND OUR CULTURE would JUMP INTO survival mode and would find some underground net work to hide my son till the matter can be resolved…or go back with him….”

    The mom did “jump into survival mode”, she risked her life to come here, get proper papers in order, got a job. Now her son is clearly not being taken care of in the manner she had hoped, and now she DARES to want him with her.

    Also, it sounds like you are suggesting that she do something illegal, hide her son, and risk the possibity of her son being able to come here legally in five years. Maybe you could share more of your thoughts on this blatent inferiority of the El Savadorian culture to ours.

    No, I don’t “cry during commercials” but I have been known to shed more than one tear, watching people share their heart wrenching stories of survival against all odds. I know that I am so blessed and lucky to be in this country, who am I to villify those, willing to work hard, for wanting to be here too. Our immigration system is broken, and it needs to be fixed, for the betterment of all of us.

  7. Bring it On

    Slowpoke Rodriquez,
    What exactly do you contribute to the conversation? Once in a blue moon you come over, shout “racist” at a completely inappropriate time, and then disappear. Why don’t you try to participate in the conversation?

  8. Emma

    So mom weeps crocodile tears over this boy, and chooses to stay here with the other two children? Guess this kid knows his place in the family. If El Salvador was so tumultuous in the first place, why ON EARTH would a mother abandon her child there and start making more babies in another country? And then leave him with disreputable family members?

    I refuse to believe that this mother is as innocent and clueless as some here want to believe. She is selfish, and she gambled on the well-being of her kid, and she is willing to see him shipped back alone and to be put at risk again. That hardly sounds like sacrifice to me.

    There are some serious holes in this story.

  9. Rick Bentley

    Censored, I am still living in PWC and have not given up the fight. If like many of my neighbors I bailed out when the area started turning into a Spanish ghetto, your analogy would stand up better. Thanks to HSM in part PWC is getting better, becoming a place that middle-class Americans can hope to live in without shouldering the burden for a host of illegal aliens and living next to housefuls of them.

  10. Princess Billy-Bob

    Just Cause,

    Many people have been forced to leave a child with relatives while they sought employment. I was speaking of Americans.

    Moving on south of the border, it isn’t unusual for a parent to leave a child or children with grandparents or brothers and sisters to come to the United States to establish themselves.

    If you made $8.50 an hour, I honestly do not think you have any idea what TH is speaking of. Some of these countries have a poverty level most of us cannot even fathom. It is real easy to say what you would or would not do in an abstract situation. I have taught kids who tell stories that just seem unbelievable to someone living in middle class Manassas.

  11. you wish

    Emma –

    That’s the part of the story that took me back – the fact that she came over here and had two more children, all while “worrying” about her child she abandoned in El Salvador.

    The story also says that her son followed her route, which she detailed:

    “The route, which wound from El Salvador to Guatemala, through Mexico and finally across the Rio Grande into Texas, is more than a month’s journey traveling by foot and car, Mirna said.”

    And she doesn’t have to “abandon” her other two children – can they not go back to El Salvador with her?

  12. Rick Bentley said:

    Censored, I am still living in PWC and have not given up the fight. If like many of my neighbors I bailed out when the area started turning into a Spanish ghetto, your analogy would stand up better. Thanks to HSM in part PWC is getting better, becoming a place that middle-class Americans can hope to live in without shouldering the burden for a host of illegal aliens and living next to housefuls of them.

    Hey Ricky Ricardo, I wish you’d me a favor and immigrate with the rest of your neighbors. I fully support your right to immigrate away. The area is turning into an english ghetto. I’m sick of shouldering the tax burden of their unconstitutional resolutions. And I’m sick of living next to housefuls of cowards who love comfort and hate freedom.

  13. Rick Bentley

    Hey Mackie, cry me a river. If the Rule Of Law is unacceptable to you, tough nuggets.

  14. Rick Bentley said:

    Censored, I am still living in PWC and have not given up the fight. If like many of my neighbors I bailed out when the area started turning into a Spanish ghetto…

    I think Rick has never held a rose under the moon in spanish harlem…

    …it can be magic Rick…magic…

  15. Thanks for this story. I just wrote about it at Citizen Orange.

  16. Censored bybvbl

    And she doesn’t have to “abandon” her other two children – can they not go back to El Salvador with her?

    You Wish, why are some of you so eager to banish American citizens to countries with which they’re unfamiliar or destined to live lives of poverty? Don’t you care about your fellow citizens?

  17. Moon-howler

    Censored bybvbl, Apparently not. I am rather amazed at some of the comments. I am surprised with the lack of compassion. Regardless of how people feel about the mother, why would anyone want a child to have to return to this situation? Why would people be dancing and cheering because a family has to be seperated?

    I didn’t realize we deported children when their parents are here legally. Sort of makes me ashamed of my country if that is the case.

  18. Moon-howler

    As an aside, how about those selfish bastards who left their children with relatives while they are over in Iraq? Fighting for one’s country is no excuse. They deserve to have their children taken away!!! They should never be seperated from their children whatever the reason.

    (sarcasm button now off)

  19. stw

    Moon-howler, 14. June 2008, 8:18

    You’re comparing apples to oranges.
    Get a grip, woman!

  20. stw

    PS – I don’t care if you were being sarcastic or not.
    Your comment was truly ignorant!

  21. anon-100

    No one deports the American citizen children. You either want your children with you or you leave them here. It is heartbreaking, but the simple fact is…. the parents of these children knew there was a chance that they would be caught and deported. They made a BAD choice here.
    Do any of you feel that it is wrong to incarcerate people who break the law when they have children? They also took the chance that their children would suffer for the acts they themselves committed. The families are still split up. The difference? Illegal immigrants can take their children with them if they choose. People incarcerated can not.

  22. Censored bybvbl

    Oh, the old incarceration argument. That’s getting stale. It sounds as though you’d rather deport one minor child who is not here legally and have every other legal member of his family go with him to harm’s way than make an exception for him. Real heart you’re showing there.

  23. Valley Girl

    I admit that I cry during commercials. My husabnd finds it so annoying that he has been known to peg dirty socks at my head.

    Hey, her’s an old blog entry I wrote that I thought I should ressurect:

    I have just finished compiling a top ten list of reasons that someone should get deported from the United States. These reasons have nothing to do with the standard reasons, such as illegal entry or felony convictions. As a matter of fact this has nothing to do with nationality; anyone could conceivably be deported if they commit any of what I consider to be deportable offenses. The country to which those guilty of committing these offenses will be sent is called Somanyhicksistan. This country does not exit, I hope.

    Also, in case you can’t tell, this is intended to be fun, like a joke. I have no real powers to set laws or enforce deportations. Don’t call me trying to get your annoying neighbor a one way ticket out of the US.

    Attention: This is a joke. Do not write an outraged letter to any editor, unless you want to accuse me of not being funny, in which case you can try to make an amendment to my list and add reason #11, not being funny when trying to be. I hope I get deportation proceedings because humor can be difficult to measure, unless it’s just really bad.

    Unlike Letterman’s list, my list has no particular order. Offenses can raise up and down on the list depending upon my mood.

    Reason #10. Making up things to get attention. I will make an exception for anyone under 12.

    Reason #9. Seeing that someone is trying to pull out onto East Market Street in Leesburg during rush hour and instead of actually slowing down to let them in front of you, speeding up and then glaring at them like they are homicidal maniacs for cutting in front of you.

    Reason #8. Crunching ice. I put that one in for my Mom. (love ya Mom!)

    Reason #7 Being a TV hog. (Sorry Mauricio but your outta here!)

    Reason #6. Being a grown man and responding to another grown man’s scream to kick the soccer ball clear across the field during a 7 year old’s soccer practice and subsequently pegging my own son right in the head, knocking him up into the air and onto his butt.

    Reason #5 Wearing a bright orange hat during a county Board meeting when you are one of the elected officials.

    (Because I have just deported Supervisor Delgaudio and my husband and I don’t think they will get along with each other in their new home I will send one to the North and one to the South)

    Reason #4 Drinking beer out of a can.

    Reason #3 Wearing you hair in a mullet, unless you mistakenly ask the 80 year old hairstylist to give you “something different” as recently happened to a friend of mine. She gets a pardon; the pain of the hairstyle was enough.

    Reason #2 Having an over inflated sense of your own self importance. (Thanks to this offense there will be no shortage of bloggers in Somanyhicksistan)

    Reason #1 Picking brick over stone.

  24. Valley Girl

    For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Loduoun politics and didn’t get the Delgaudio reference, he is the Sterling rep on the BOS. Imagine if Greg L were skinnier, had big ears, was a County Supervisor, and wore an orange hunting cap to board meetings – you would have someone pretty much like Delguadio. Not to mention that Delgaudio is the president of a national anti gay lobbying organization and has raised millions of dollars to push his hate agenda.

  25. Firedancer

    Valley Girl, thank you for your insightful posting 13 June 13:37, about the mixed messages and what might help El Salvador. I started my adult career here in the late 80s working with refugees from the war in El Salvador. I am still traumatized by the experience, even though the country itself has moved on. The realities of today have their roots in the civil war. Since our country played a role at that time, we are obligated to continue that relationship, as well as being good neighbors in our hemisphere.

    I agree with your solutions for helping the country. The situation of the remesas has to be addressed. Investments and projects should be encouraged that foster long-term self-sufficiency.

  26. All these social conservatives who want to expel immigrants invariably say that the immigrants should return to take care of their country. However, these haters refuse to face the reality that immigrants who are here and sending money home are doing the best thing they can to economically uplift their countries of origin. The money they send home is injected exactly where it needs to go…the working class. For the first time, poor people in latin america can now have money to buy a house, educate the children, and start businesses. This is how a middle class is born. We don’t need big government programs. Big Government programs will only end up being hijacked by business and corrupt govt officials…in other words NAFTA. We just need to let the people do it. They can do it. They will do it.

    When faced with this truth, the haters like Letiecq will just ignore it. Their concern for improving latin america is as sincere as the affection with which they will ‘send the children back with love’ to 3rd world countries.

  27. Moon-howler

    Mackie, I think what you are really saying is that remittances are the new foreign aid?

    Could it be possible that people can better assess their own needs better than their governments? This sounds a lot more sensible than our government giving another government money.

    I don’t know why the haters are in such a knot over remittances. This practice has been in place since immigrants first came to this country.

  28. stw

    “I don’t know why the haters are in such a knot over remittances.”

    MH – Who are the haters? Please clarify for me. I see a lot of “haters” on this site.
    Haters of HSM….haters of Greg L. and his “minions”… I’m very curious as to who you consider the “haters” to be.

  29. Rick Bentley

    We are not obligated to let tons of them in to our country, and grant them asylum AFTER they sneak in. Let’s find another way to help them than to cede large portions of DC to them.

  30. Moon-howler


    I would say the haters were anyone who hated. I was responding to Mackie. You might want to go check with his original comment.

  31. g.stone

    Laura’s case of the ass against Delgaudio knows no bounds.

  32. g.stone

    It is my hope the Scout is able to make it back after he , his parents or other responsible adults get right with the law.

    If the kid had not been a scout the LTM would have put him in a little blue dress, handed him an ice cream cone and an American flag. They then would have snapped his picture in front of his sobbing mother being comforted by the local catholic priest. His being a scout at least saved him a portion of his dignity.

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