Charlotte immigrant teen given temporary reprieve from deportation

Published: Jul. 31, 2016 at 12:02 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - A Charlotte immigrant teen who came to the city fleeing gang violence in El Salvador has been given a temporary stay of deportation while he awaits the outcome of a bid for asylum.

Pedro Arturo Salmeron, 18, of Charlotte was facing imminent deportation Thursday, after he was transferred from a Georgia detention center in preparation for his departure. However, on Friday his attorney won an emergency stay of removal from the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Salmeron, who turns 19 next month, will likely be sent back to the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia (about seven hours south of Charlotte), while awaiting the outcome of his case, said attorney J. Britt Thames of Macon, Georgia.

The Charlotte teen is one of six North Carolina immigrants, known as the NC6, who were swept up in a series of arrests that drew national attention because some were allegedly caught on the way to school. ICE officials have denied that was the case.

Salmeron applied for asylum earlier this year, in hopes of staying in Charlotte with his parents. He has been held without bond the past six months in a detention center in Lumpkin, Georgia.

He is one of two Charlotte teens included among the NC6. The other, Yefri Sorto-Hernandez, was released on bond a few weeks ago by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is back in Charlotte.

The two Charlotte teens came to the United States in 2014 as part of a flood of Central American minors who showed up without parents at the U.S. border between 2009 and 2014. Most said they were escaping violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, countries that have some of the world's highest murder rates. They were willing to make the dangerous journey based on word-of-mouth knowledge of a Bush-era law that requires unaccompanied children from Central America to be given immigration court consideration and possible asylum.

Salmeron's family claims a cousin in El Salvador was killed and dismembered by gang members, prompting him to make the trip to the United States. He lost his immigration court case and was issued an order to leave the country. However, Thames says the teen never made an application for asylum at the time, which could have resulted in a different outcome.