The son of an Anglican bishop based in Latin America who was detained by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement last year has been denied asylum.
Josue Alvarado Guerra, 34, the son of Bishop David Alvarado of the Diocese of El Salvador, was denied asylum earlier this month and is awaiting possible deportation.
Alvarado Guerra originally left El Salvador for the U.S. after being threatened by a San Salvador gang for refusing to work with them, according to the Episcopal News Service.
ENS noted that he worked as an undocumented laborer in the U.S. for a period of time until Nov. 27, 2019, when he was detained in Ohio, where he is presently being held.
The Episcopal Church has been actively supporting Guerra. In addition to some bishops writing in support of the detainee, the Rev. Aaron Gerlach of Old Trinity Episcopal Church in Tiffin has been visiting him and offering pastoral support.
“My sense is he’s been scared from day one about being deported back to El Salvador,” said the Rev. Margaret D’Anieri, the canon for mission for the Diocese of Ohio, in an interview with ENS.
Bishop Alvarado has implored the U.S. to not deport his son back to El Salvador, arguing that it would be dangerous for him to return.
“If he returns, the gangs will go after him again,” Alvarado said, Reuters reported. “He fled because of the threats.”
“Even though they’ve signed deals between the Central American governments ... and the United States that they are safe countries, we know that they’re not so safe. … We live here under a structure of violence going back many years because of the gangs.”
Under the Trump administration, there has been an increased effort to deport people who illegally entered the country as well as reduce the number of refugees resettled on an annual basis.
Last September, the administration released a fact sheet announcing their intention to lower the refugee resettlement cap to 18,000 for fiscal year 2020 (Oct. 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2020), the lowest it has been since the program was created in 1980.
“This proposed ceiling takes into account the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis on our border and the massive asylum backlog, which now includes nearly one million individuals,” stated the fact sheet.
“The overwhelming backlog is completely unsustainable and needs to be addressed before we accept large numbers of refugees.”