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Deporting Love: A Married Couple’s Journey to Stay in the United States

On November 28, 2005, Enrique Gonzalez walked across the border to pursue a safe and prosperous life in the U.S. Afraid of gang recruitment in El Salvador and seeking to escape to a safe place with opportunities to work to help himself and his family, after two days of processing and detention, he was taken (by immigration officials) to a Texas bus station where he was left to find his way in what would become his new home, the United States of America. Thirteen years later, with a U.S. Immigration approved marriage to a citizen, Enrique is being deported.

In the January 2017 Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, the Trump administration laid out a much wider dragnet authorizing and empowering ICE in the deportation of undocumented.  Unlike the discretion of the Obama Administration, as evidenced in the 2011 Memo, which exercised a great deal of flexibility the Trump Administration's laser-sharp focus is on the numbers! Every undocumented …

NEWS: Local Station Shares Our Story

Our Story Hits Local News: 

Man working to uplift Indy community faces deportation after his "stay" renewal was denied 

WRTV Reporter Stephanie Wade interviewed Enrique, myself, and two of our eastside clients, Dawn and Jeff Wendel and Chelsea Benham.  While the behind the scenes interview was far more in-depth, Stephanie's report will serve as a conversation-starter regarding the tragedies of current deportation practices in America. What we all need now is a listening posture on both sides of the political spectrum in an effort to fix the atrocities that are occurring daily as families, ours included, are being torn apart unjustly and inhumanely.

If this is your first time tuning in to our story, despite being married to a U.S. citizen and having won two separate "Stay of Deportation" orders and an immigration approved the marriage, my husband Enrique Gonzalez is being deported back to his home country of El Salvador. In lieu of separating our family, if immigration continues with the unjust deportation of my husband, our family (Enrique, myself, and two fuzzy daughters (a Schnauzer and a Pitbull), will be leaving the country this September (2018) to pursue expatriation in El Salvador. Our family will not be divided by this bullying administration. We will be together!

The details of our case can be seen, both in this video and here on As the interview conveys, the only way to fix the unjust and inhumane treatment of undocumented living in the US is to change the laws. The only way to change the laws is to show our legislators the humanitarian side of the issue through the sharing of very real and personal stories like ours. Ours and others must be told. Please share this link in social media, tell your family, tell your friends. We must stop the unjust deportation and separation of families.


Others Stories:

There are millions of other unjust deportations!

We must empower, educate, and inspire lawmakers to seek fair and just comprehensive immigration reform that takes into consideration humanitarian rights. Families like ours should NOT be separated. Immigrants coming into this country should not be aided and abetted by the U.S. Immigration system in what is commonly known as the "catch and release" program that allows immigrants to enter the country and be processed by immigration officials but who are then released until a hearing can be conducted to decide their case. In many cases a "Notice to Appear" is later mailed (without verification of delivery) to the "last known address" of the undocumented would not have had a permanent address until they've settled.

In Enrique's case, like most, understanding the English language would not be possible at the time of crossing into the country yet, the immigrants are given orders and documents they often do not understand.  Not uncommon, Enrique was taken to a Greyhound bus station by immigration officials where he was left to find his own way in the U.S. If lawmakers 13 years later would now consider Enrique a criminal, then are they not complicit in his crime? The U.S. Gov't is clearly aiding and abetting undocumented whom they are now seeking to forcefully remove from the country. They are enabling. In helping him not only by empowering him to stay but also in encouraging he and millions of other undocumented to obtain a tax ID and to pay U.S. income taxes, they are empowering undocumented to falsely believe they are on a path to legalization. 

Freed within the U.S., Enrique, like millions of others, built a life for himself over more than a decade, connecting with family, friends, getting involved in the community, volunteering, getting married, and starting a business in his pursuit of the American Dream.

He, like many immigrants, applied for and received a Tax ID, and began working and paying taxes into the public coffers. He believed his annual filing of taxes would serve as a clear indication of his whereabouts and, was in fact, notifying the government where he lives, while also demonstrating "good moral character" which, per the IRS' own guidelines, promised to be a factor that would weigh in his favor when seeking legalization.

Tragically, the IRS systems do not talk to the immigration system nor vice versa. Data (addresses and whereabouts) aren't shared and therefore, the undocumented who are making contributions to the tax system is without any hope of receiving a return - nor helping their case with immigration. IRS, UCIS, ICE, and immigration courts do NOT share information across departments and systems, thus creating a web of complexity keeping information from flowing and keeping the various departments from being informed.

A case in point, our most recent Motion for Administrative Closure of the Deportation Order was again DENIED, only this time, it was an administrative error in that we failed to send a change of address to the Texas court considering our case. Amazingly, our new address was clearly indicated throughout the various legal documents, however, we've since learned, an official change of address is required. Participating in the complex pathway to legalization is overwhelming, takes years, and simply increases the suffering of families who are already facing increasing stress and fear.  The various departments and processes that present administrative and legal hoops to jump through is a disorganized and disparate system that can prove challenging even for an expert attorney.

Normal Day-to-Day Living

Together, we're guiding the efforts to revitalize an eastside community that we have fallen in love with and are heavily invested in.  We enjoy local eateries where the staff know our names. We walk our dogs most evenings in the park. We are in love with Friday Night Vino's with neighbors/friends around an adjacent neighbor's campfire, and we're looking forward to "front porch parties", an initiative that we're soon to promote and launch as an official neighborhood event and icebreaker to get neighbors talking.

We recently helped coordinate a neighborhood cleanup that not only sparked camaraderie and fun but inspired the desire for more than 30 volunteers to roll-up-their-sleeves to get involved; an unprecedented first neighborhood event for the association Enrique and I started in January (2018), My Christian Park.

My husband Enrique Gonzalez and I came to the eastside neighborhoods of Irvington and Christian Park to help develop a community we had hoped to be a part of for the rest of our lives. Eighteen years his senior, together, we've passionately pursued area revitalization investing in and upgrading area rental properties.

As as a Realtor, I've brought first-time-home-buyers to the area who were previously seeking to purchase in other parts of the city. With community building and a passion for helping our clients to find affordable and manageable homes, we've been passionately steering home buyers to discover Christian Park and Eastside neighborhoods as the place to call home!

We've designed and developed countless Irvington kitchens and baths and have become fast friends with every single client. We have recently surprised ourselves in the discovery of our openness to listen to other's views. Formerly disgusted by the bullying, lies, and targeting of this administration we had shut down and turned inwards. While we do not support Trump or his policies, it was through our getting to know one of the families we recently rehabbed a kitchen for, that we began to listen.

Challenged by very up-close-and-personal pain at the hands of this administration, we are trying to be open. As seen here, the Wendel family, clients who've become fast friends. Self-proclaimed Trump supporters, they have shared with us time and again, "While we may have voted for Trump,  we did not vote for this," as they express their sincere support of Enrique and the many other undocumented who are positively contributing to our country and should not be forced to leave. Not all undocumented are criminals, as some would have you believe.

As the shoe fell on us and the many other undocumented and DREAMERS in the U.S., we left no stone unturned in our quest to find support. Only two weeks ago we met with, and received advice from our Congressman Andres Carson who suggested; the only way to fix the situation is to tell our story wherever it can be heard, in hopes that other Republicans, like our friends the Wendel's, will support a change in immigration laws. That is what we've set out to do.

The current executive order enforces barbaric and inhumane laws that must change. Republican and Democratic politicians and their constituents, must stop, look, and listen to the realities of the atrocious and unjust behaviors they are currently unleashing in their enforcement efforts.

Millions of undocumented, like us, deserve a compassionate and thoughtful solution when considering the various cases. We must refrain from criminalizing every undocumented person in the nation, a nation that was built by immigrants who, like Enrique, came to America in pursuit of a better life. America is supposed to be better than this. What have we become?

Innovative solutions are needed that will take into consideration, not just the unlawful entry aspect, but the many years the undocumented have paid into the tax base that has amassed an enormous stockpile of surplus cash that is currently funding a portion of social security payouts. The millions of immigrants who were convinced that paying income tax was a key to future legalization are being lied to and robbed by the U.S. Gov't.  

The new regime's targeting, rounding up and deporting the various individuals with no other infraction but a prior deportation order, is untenable and must stop. The claims the undocumented are taking advantage of our social services is a lie. A surplus exists because of the many undocumented who are paying into the system.  Very few who are (or can) utilizing the services. The rhetoric that suggests they are draining the social services is simply untrue.

Despite the decades of the U.S. Gov't aiding and abetting the undocumented in their initial entry into the country, and their encouragement of the undocumented to apply for a tax ID and then to pay income taxes as a key consideration for future acceptance, the new administration now asserts they are nothing but criminals and should be acted upon immediately. In many cases, even married to a U.S. Spouse is no longer a grounds for approval to stay, as in the case we're fighting.

Ripping families apart is unconscionable, cruel, a bullying, terrorist, and unlawful act by any other standards, and must be stopped! Compassion is needed as so many of these people (like us) are an integral part of the community. The U.S. Gov't helped create this situation. They should now help clean it up equitably. Not on the backs of the undocumented, but in a way that delivers compassion, recognition of basic human rights, and dignities to these people who have been caught between policy and political rhetoric far too long.

Pastor Chelsea Benham, Irvington Presbyterian Church suggested, "I just can not believe what is happening to them." Chelsea a client, and new friend we found through our work in the community was one of the first calls I made when this came down as we considered seeking sanctuary at the church. Chelsea scrambled to find ways to help. We appreciate her efforts.

We are currently evaluating our options for departure to El Salvador later this summer. We are researching and seeking information to help us to better understand safety on the ground. We're told, our only safe option will be to move to an area of the country where housing and the cost of living is much like it is here in the states. The safest option would be to live within the tourist areas.

Enrique's worry is that I, a pale-skin gay white man from the U.S., will be a target of extortion. Seen as potentially having money, U.S. citizens living in El Salvador are often targeted by gangs.  Extortion, theft, and murder are common. We would likely have to find our way to a gated and secured community, while yet, I would be unable to work given the various visa programs, thus we are uncertain for how we'd afford to live there. It appears we'll have little choice.

Our current focus is on trying to find a safe and affordable solution. The U.S. Gov't, by deporting my husband and thereby forcing me to expatriate outside the United States, would essentially be placing a U.S. Citizen in harm's way. Immigration enforcement would lead to the loss of our business and loss of income, it would risk my safety in a foreign 3rd-world country that is known for hostility and crime, and because we are gay and married, two factors that are not accepted in El Salvador, the potential for moving into grave danger, is high. Our public efforts to expose the situation in the U.S. puts us on the radar and could result in further danger if sent to El Salvador.  We are planning for the worst.

How can you help?

The time has come for changes in the law. What Enrique and I, and the many other undocumented in the U.S. need now are opportunities to tell our story as a means to advocate, both in an attempt to educate the public, but also in an attempt to persuade lawmakers. The time has come for humanitarian solutions in immigration reform. 

The millions of DREAMERS and undocumented living in the shadows deserve compassion when evaluating the circumstances. Given the U.S. Government helped create the situation that has been going on for decades, the time has come for the U.S. Government to issue amnesty as part of immigration reform. 

Please write or call your legislators and tell them you support a compassionate and humanitarian centered immigration reform. Tell them to STOP tearing families apart and refrain from the current indiscriminate deportation force that is sweeping the nation. Tell your legislators, you support amnesty. 

Most important, please share our story! Connect us to celebrities, politicians, friends, family, business owners, CEO's etc., anyone who can help elevate our story as an example of the injustice in deportation enforcement. Please read and share this story and our blog at 

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