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Joel Colindres left Guatemala in 2004, to escape violence and other troubles, and entered the states under a provisional waiver, looking for a better life.

Despite all the challenges Colindres faced from immigration officials he still sought to make a life for himself in the land of the free. He succeeded in doing so when he met his wife, Samantha, in 2004 and married her in 2010. Now he’s the father of two small children, Lila, 2 and Preston, 6, and according to his wife has worked the same job all 13 years he’s been in America.

The family resides in New Fairfield, Connecticut, but they won’t be there for long as immigration officials are forcing Colindres to leave the country on August 17th and return to Guatemala despite having no criminal history.

In a post to Facebook Samantha explains that the two have done everything the “right way.” Besides Joel missing a court date in 2004 after immigration officials spelled his name wrong and sent the order to the wrong address, Colindres and his wife have not hidden a single detail from ICE. They obtained an I-130 after they got married and have continued to live their lives as an open book.

“After [the I-130] we had to file other waivers, one to reopen his case in Texas and get it moved up here to CT. Once that was done we followed all the other steps to a T, each year sending in every detail of our lives to ICE and USCIS from all our birth records, medical, SSN’s, job letters, bills, taxes, basically imagine every private detail about your life you somehow have to encapsulate in documents and send away for someone else to review.”

In 2016 the couple was granted a stay, meaning they had time to work on their case but were required to have annual check ins with ICE. The couple had one of these check ins on May 25th where immigration officials told them that they did not have their file. Samantha believes that this is because the stay expired on June 1st and they wanted to visit with them when they could “touch him. ” After going back in early June and being sent away again, they returned in July where Samantha had a gut feeling that something was off.

“We sat there for three hours till the entire room was cleared. People who came in way after us were being called first… gut told me then and there something was up. I knew they were waiting to the room was empty so I couldn’t cause a scene. I was right.”

On July 20th Colindres was handed a denied letter, that could not be appealed, and was told has to leave the country by August 17th. Joel and Samantha are absolutely heartbroken and have no idea how to tell their children. Samantha told CNN, “I can’t seem to summon the courage to look them in the face and say all that. How can you say it before bed, how’s he going to sleep? How do you say it in the morning before school and ruin his day? When’s the right time?”

Colindres is being deported under Donald Trump’s tough crackdown on immigration where he vowed to deport all illegal immigrants who were violent criminals.

Connecticut Senator, Richard Blumenthal, told CNN he does not agree with the deportation of Colindres. He told CNN, “We should be deporting people who are dangerous and who pose a threat to society, not people like … Joel and others who have lived here, worked, paid taxes, raised families, and have people depending on them at work and in their homes.”

“So tell me more about how is this helping American citizens by deporting my husband? Tell me how the Administration is going to help THIS American Citizen and her two American children live when her husband is deported. Tell me how it will help the country when this family is broken up, goes broke because we have lost the second income and I am left here to pay for our home while raising our two kids and working a full time job. Tell me how to comfort my children at night when daddy isn’t here,” Samantha writes.

Joel Colindres is not violent and definitely not a criminal. Samantha stands by this and is doing everything she can to raise awareness to her situation. Read her full Facebook post here to learn more about her story and how she is planning to make some noise.

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Erika Liberati
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Erika is an aspiring journalist and senior in high school who is passionate about music and equality. twitter: @liberatierika insta: @erika.liberati

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