By Stan Friedman
TURLOCK, CA (December 13, 2011) – The Turlock Covenant Church and members of Maria Chaparro’s family are awaiting an immigration judge’s ruling on whether her deportation case will be re-opened, says Pastor Steve Carlson.
Maria, a member of the church, was arrested by Homeland Security officers in November 2010. Two weeks to the day after she was arrested, she was flown back to her native Honduras. Left behind were her husband, Cesar, 43, and two children, Alex, 13, and Kaylee, 11, all of whom are American citizens.
The attorney retained by the church has submitted evidence that documents the fraud perpetrated against her when she initially applied for citizenship as well as all her other efforts to become an American citizen.
Maria, 45, came to the United States when she was 19 and says she was fleeing abuse and poverty.
Maria paid $500 to a man who widely advertised himself to be an immigration attorney. He turned out to be a fraud and was later arrested in Atlanta and sentenced to prison for his far-reaching scam.
The man filed asylum applications, but never told his clients when their hearing dates had been scheduled. As a result, Maria and others like her failed to appear and judges issued deportation notices.
The filing also includes news articles about the case as well as letters of support from pastors, a hospital chaplain, and State Representative Dennis Cordoza. Click here to read a previous Covenant News Service article.
Carlson is hopeful but concedes, “All of this is a long shot.” He adds, “We continue to pray for mercy and compassion on behalf of the judge.”
Church members have rallied around the Chaparro family and pushed for her return. They note Maria’s years of attempts to gain citizenship, her lack of any criminal record, and her service to the community.
Maria had attended the church with her family for three years. She sang in the choir, volunteered her services to translate for chaplains ministering to hospice patients, led Bible studies, participated in a variety of other community outreaches of the congregation, and assisted residents of the Covenant Village Care Center, a skilled nursing facility.
Since her return to Honduras, she has continued to minister to people using material from Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos (CHET), the Covenant’s Hispanic training center. She also is using the Covenant’s Hispanic Bible study material, El Pacto con Dios.