Arabella is a 12 year old Guatemalan girl who has been held in detention in Corpus Christi, TX since May 19, 2018. Her father was illegally and wrongfully deported without her shortly after their detention, without an opportunity to present his claims for asylum. After his deportation, Armando made his way back to Texas because of the dangers he faces in Guatemala, and to reclaim his daughter from detention. He was re-arrested upon his return on July 27, 2018, and is being held in detention at Port Isabel, TX immigration detention facility.
Besides de danger Armando and his family face in Guatemala, they live in extreme poverty. Arabella lived in Guatemala with her parents and three siblings: 14-year old brother, Seldy, 10-year-old Cindy, and 7-year-old Dany. In order to support the family, Armando had to look for work outside of his community. He left for periods of 2 weeks to a month and returned home with his earnings to feed his family. When his life and the lives of his family were threatened, Armando decided to travel with his daughter, Arabella, to the United States. They left Guatemala on May 9. From the Q1,500 he had earned, he left Q500 with his family and took Q1,000 (about $133) to travel from his village to the U.S, border. They arrived on May 20 and were almost immediately separated. Armando was not told where his daughter was being taken or when he was going to see her again. He spent the next 3 days in the infamous ice box and then he was deported. When he arrived in Guatemala, he called his wife to let her know that he had been deported and he told her that Arabella had been taken away from him and she had stayed in the United States.
Arabella’s mother, Genara was inconsolable because Armando had no answers — He did not know where Arabella was or when she was going to be returned to them. He explained that a lady took Arabella while they we,re sitting together and no one explained to him why they were taking her away. Armando and Genara waited impatiently in Guatemala for news from Arabella. They had no idea where to turn for help and on June 9, Armando decided to return to the United States to find his daughter. He has been detained since he arrived and he has not been reunited with his daughter. He has been at Port Isabel for 4 months. Arabella spoke with her mother for the first time on June 29; this was an excruciating wait for both mother and daughter. Although Arabella misses her family dearly, she does not want to return to Guatemala because she faces imminent danger. In addition, the extreme poverty his family endures is inhumane. They live in a shack with no running water; they fetch water daily from a water well 20 minutes away by foot; they wash their clothes and bathe in the river. Arabella and her family do not have beds and sleep on the floor.
Arabella told her mom she wishes they could be in the United States with her because she has food and a nice bed to sleep on. Arabella tells her mom that she misses her dad dearly and she wishes to meet him soon and give him a hug. The separation from her dad is one of the hardest things she has to endure. Arabella’s connection with her family is limited to 2 phone calls a week with her mom and siblings.
We are currently working to reunite Arabella with her father in the United States, and will litigate both of their asylum cases, pro bono, so that they may remain in the United States together as a family. Is it too dangerous in Guatemala for their return? We are asking for your help and generosity to raise $5,000 to aid in the release of 12-year old Arabella, reunification with her father Armando.
Any funds raised that are not used for expenses will be given to Arabella’s family to help provide for her care.