Latin American Coalition fighting deportation of CMS student

Published: Mar. 9, 2016 at 10:56 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 8, 2016 at 11:20 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Latin American Coalition is concerned about the future of 19-year-old Yefri Sorto. The coalition tells WBTV the teenager was captured by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) back in January while he was on his way to the bus stop near his house.

Statement from ICE reads: "Mr. Sorto falls within an enforcement priority category due to a final order of removal issued by an immigration judge in January 2015."

ICE says Sorto had a year to go back to El Salvador but he didn't. The law states ICE can go after people unlawfully entering the United States on or after January 2014.

Sorto came in 2014 to join his parents who have been in America for about 14 years. They have received a temporary status, but that couldn't happen for their son.

"Currently he doesn't qualify to fix his status," Latin American Coalition Executive Director Jose Hernandez-Paris said. "Because of immigration reform not taking place yet."

Sorto is currently in jail in Georgia. He is scheduled to be deported in about two weeks. His mother hopes appeals could change that.  ICE officials say Sorto has had his day in court and the judge ordered him back to El Salvador.

Sorto's mother fears if her son is taken away, she may never see him alive again. He may be forced to join a gang.

"Has intimidation to join a bad gang," Mother Elsy Hernandez said. "If they resist, the bad gangs kill the boys."

The mother talks to her son about twice a day. She tells WBTV about their conversation mother and son had on Wednesday.

"He was very, very depressed," the mother said. "He says mama, I don't want to stay here. This is terrible."

The Latin American Coalition is stepping in. It addressed the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) District at the Tuesday night board meeting.

"Raise awareness," Hernandez-Paris said. "To let the school board know he is still in jail and about to be deported."

The Coalition wants CMS to write a resolution supporting Sorto. It hopes that may make a difference. Teachers say Sorto was a good student at West Mecklenburg High School with good attendance.

"The fact we have so many members of the community and teachers who want to vouch for the fact of his character and the fact his family is here and they are here documented, they would consider an exception in this case," Hernandez-Paris said.

Hernandez-Paris tells WBTV he knows of four CMS students have been picked up recently by ICE. He says two have been deported and two are in jail. He is concerned they are being picked up while going to school and trying to better their lives.

"I am concerned about the fact that we are targeting this type of student," Hernandez-Paris says.

ICE tells WBTV it does not pick up people at schools nor at bus stops.

Here is a copy of the policy:

"The memorandum states enforcement actions do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools and churches unless (a) exigent circumstances exist and/or (b) other law enforcement actions have led officers to a sensitive location as described in the "Exceptions to the general rule" section of the policy memorandum, or (c) prior approval is obtained."

ICE officials tell WBTV it did not know Sorto's bus stop was so close to his house.

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