Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Support couldn’t stop Marshall teen from being deported

17-year-old sent back to El Salvador after family fled
By Deb Gau
Independent: Southwestern Minnesota's Daily Newspaper
March 1, 2010

He was more than a good person and a good friend, friends and acquaintances of Jairo Yanes said late last week - he was like family.

"He was like a brother to everybody," said Marshall High School student Jeremy Rodgriguez on Friday. "What I remember most about him is just how outgoing he is, he's always got a huge smile."

"I miss his smile," said student Kelsey Przymus. "The small things mean a lot."

But that support wasn't enough to keep Yanes, a junior at MHS, from being deported to El Salvador on Friday. Classmates and teachers said they learned Yanes had been flown to Miami at 5 a.m. Friday and back to El Salvador later that night.

Yanes had been in a detention center in Carver County since Monday.

"It was the single hardest thing I've ever done, was let them take him," said MHS choir teacher Caroline Przymus.

Yanes was a member of show choir, and had become close to the Przymus family. They maintained contact with him over the course of the week. Friends and classmates learned last week that Yanes and his mother and younger brother came to the U.S. illegally. When Yanes came home from a show choir tournament on Feb. 21, his family was gone.

"There was nothing there but a check and a letter that said 'we love you, but we have to leave,'" Caroline Przymus said.

The family had been scheduled to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Monday, Przymus said. Even though Yanes, 17, is a minor, she said I.C.E. could still deport him by himself. He was placed in detention at the Carver County Jail.

"He was treated very well there, he was not in a cell," Przymus said, but it was still very difficult to take.

Caroline Przymus said an immigration law specialist had been trying to help get Yanes' deportation stayed, but the stay was denied.

Classmates said they tried to help Yanes "any way we could." They, as well as community members, wrote letters in support of Yanes and even spoke with a reporter from KARE 11 News. But Friday morning, they learned it was too late.

Caroline Przymus said Yanes had a brother, 19, who lives in El Salvador, and they were trying to contact him.

Students said they were coming together to cope with the situation. Both Marshall teens and adults have left messages of support on a Facebook page created for Yanes. As of the weekend, the page had more than 400 members.

"It was really comforting to know we're not the only ones who see him as he really is," Kelsey Przymus said.

"We understand not everyone agrees with the immigration thing," Caroline Przymus said. "The students met outside school (Thursday) and I told them, you can't get upset with things people say."

A final message from Yanes posted on Facebook on Friday night read: "I have you all in the tip of my heart . . . stay strong. Don't be sad. And I love you all."