The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 41           October 30, 2006  
Iowa teenager fights
gov’t attempts to deport her
DES MOINES, Iowa—“After my arrest, I heard from my sister that there was going to be a demonstration against me being deported. I looked out the window at the Polk County jail and saw people protesting who I didn’t even know and who didn’t know me!” Estephanie Izaguirre, 18, said in a Sepember 16 interview here.

“After five days I got released,” Izaguirre said. “I decided then I wanted to spend my life helping other people in the same situation as me.” Izaguirre came here from Honduras at age 12 without her parents to live with her sister, Reyna Jasso. Under a legal provision for orphaned children, Izaguirre was in the process of gaining permanent residency status. She is now under threat of deportation.

On June 1, five days after Izaguirre graduated from East High School here and three days after her 18th birthday, immigration officials notified her attorney, Jim Benzoni, that they wanted to see her to “complete paperwork,” which she and her attorney assumed was in order to obtain her green card.

Instead, when she appeared before immigration officials, the teenager was arrested and told she would be deported, stemming from an order issued when she had been 12 years old for failure to appear at an immigration hearing in Texas.

In 2001, when she crossed into Texas from Mexico, she was picked up by the border cops, who subsequently released her to the care of a family friend who pledged to deliver Izaguirre to her sister in Iowa. The cops said she would be notified about a future immigration hearing. In Iowa, however, the two sisters never received a notice to appear at a hearing in Texas. In fact, immigration officials have on record that the letter was returned undelivered. Izaguirre and her lawyer will appeal the deportation order at a November 7 immigration hearing.

At a September 8 Militant Labor Forum here on “Defending Immigrant Rights,” Jasso explained the campaign that was carried out to bring attention to Estephanie’s case. A high school friend, Estrella Serrano, told Jasso, “We need to do something.”

Serrano and Jasso organized a protest outside the jail. They had gone to the local media, the offices of Iowa governor Thomas Vilsack, and the two U.S. senators in Iowa to request help. Around 50 people attended the rally, including Sen. Thomas Harkin. On June 6 Izaguirre was released.
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