Posted on Thursday, 11.12.09 Recommend (3)
Deported Salvadoran man might get a reprieve

A Salvadoran man is being allowed to return to the U.S. to determine whether his deportation by federal authorities was valid.


José C. RodrÃ*guez-Portillo arrived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, was caught and ordered deported by an immigration judge.

But that wasn't the complete story.

In a rare move, signaling a possible error on their part, U.S. immigration authorities have agreed to let RodrÃ*guez-Portillo return to Miami because of his claims that he was, in fact, lawfully in the United States.

``ICE has decided to bring Mr. Jose RodrÃ*guez-Portillo back to the U.S. to determine the validity of his allegations,'' Nicole Navas, an ICE spokeswoman in Miami, said in a statement. ``In light of the pending litigation, however, we cannot comment further on the underlying facts of this case.''

RodrÃ*guez-Portillo's attorney, Eduardo Soto, said the federal government had overlooked evidence that his client was among thousands of Salvadorans granted temporary protected status, or TPS, in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes that struck the Central American country in 2001. He said he hopes to reunite his client with his family within days.

The story of RodrÃ*guez-Portillo's deportation began Aug. 25 when he and his wife, Ivette Concepción Fernández, sat down for an interview with federal immigration officials.

The couple had met in Miami in 1998 and later got married.

They were hoping to get RodrÃ*guez-Portillo permanent residency because she was already a U.S. citizen.


By the end of the business day, as the couple awaited news on their immigration application, it became clear RodrÃ*guez-Portillo would not be getting a green card and would not be going home with her.

Instead he was deported.

``They told me `your husband is staying here with us,' '' she recalled.

RodrÃ*guez-Portillo was then taken to an immigrant detention center in Pompano Beach and two weeks later taken to Miami International Airport and put aboard a flight to San Salvador.

His attorney believes that immigration authorities summarily removed his client because they thought RodrÃ*guez-Portillo was not covered by TPS and had a prior deportation order in his record.

The Bush administration made TPS available for undocumented Salvadorans who were living in the United States before the earthquakes. RodrÃ*guez-Portillo had been living and working here since the early 1990s.


During the marriage interview and while in custody, RodrÃ*guez-Portillo repeatedly told immigration authorities thathe was in the country legally under TPS for Salvadorans, according to his wife.

``I was praying that they would confirm his return and now he will be back with me soon,'' she said tearfully.