5-Year-Old Guatemalan Boy Faces Deportation After Houston Court Mix-Up

If the boy is deported, he’ll be separated once again from his mother, who lives in Houston. The family had been separated by the federal government last May under the “zero tolerance” policy.

Lilian Martinez with her 5-year-old son who is currently facing deportation.

UPDATE (May 5, 2019): A judge has reopened the 5-year-old’s case after a motion was filed late Thursday. He and his mom will now plead their asylum case together. Their next court date is August 5.

An immigration judge in Houston has ordered a 5-year-old Guatemalan to be deported.

The judge signed a deportation order for the boy because he didn't show up to his immigration hearing on April 11.

The boy's immigration lawyer, Mana Yegani, told News 88.7 neither she nor the boy's mom, Lilian Martinez, had been told the boy needed to appear in court on that day.

Lilian Martinez sits with her son and immigration lawyer Mana Yegani.

Yegani said she only found out about the deportation order on Wednesday, after they had called the immigration courts.

She filed a motion with the judge Thursday afternoon to reopen the child’s case.

It’s not the first time the Guatemalan family has faced separation by the government.

Martinez and her son had been separated by the federal government when they crossed the US-Mexico border last May.

They were reunited again in July and now reside in Houston while they wait for their asylum hearing.

Their lawyer calls the deportation order a court mix-up and said the separation may have contributed because their cases have not been processed as a family unit.

Yegani said she’s requesting audio from the immigration court to get more clarity as to what happened.

“If you're filing an in absentia for a five-year-old, ask questions,” said Yegani.

An ‘in absentia’ order is used to deport someone when they don’t show up to court on the day their hearing is scheduled.

In March, an 11-year-old Salvadoran girl in Houston also received a deportation order after a clerical error. Her case has since been reopened.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required