The Case of Eduardo Samaniego: Deported by ICE from South Carolina
Eduardo had been scheduled to speak at Agape’s Francis Day, October 6, 2018
When Gabriella della Croce, the lead organizer at Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Northampton, MA, had arranged for Eduardo Samaniego to speak about his undocumented status in the US, he had already been a vocal and brave witness for voiceless college-age undocumented or DACA ( Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students in the country and in Western MA. We invited Eduardo to dinner at Agape along with an immigration attorney from Worcester, Alex Mooradian, who also spoke at Francis Day. Several days before Eduardo was to speak, Gabriella informed us that Eduardo had been apprehended by ICE, and asked if we would join the campaign for his release. Since that time, Eduardo went from 100 days in a detention center in South Carolina, 30 of which were in solitary confinement, to deportation to Mexico, after a minor infraction which has since been dropped, despite intense efforts nationally to delay this action.
Aria Killough-Miller, an Agape intern during this period, met Eduardo at an Agape dinner in preparation for Francis Day when Eduardo was to speak. Aria sent this letter on Eduardo’s behalf while he was in detention.
I had the awe-inspiring opportunity to meet Eduardo at a dinner in late September at the Agape Community and to hear his story about his experiences in the immigration system which began, when, at age sixteen, Eduardo left the nurturing care of his mother and grandmother to come to the United States. From the moment he walked through the door, Eduardo struck me with his politeness and eloquence. Although I was among the people hosting him, it was he who offered to pour me water.
Though living in a trailer park, facing rejection at the University of Georgia, and scraping by as a fast food employee, Eduardo has persisted in his dedication to this country’s educational system. From becoming valedictorian of his high school to serving as a trustee at his college, the hard work he has invested into the United States’ educational system is not something to be taken lightly.
He has many professional ties to organizations large and small, from directing ministries at the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts to working on policy for Washington. As a student of constitutional law, he knows well that cooperation with any and all upcoming legal proceedings will reinforce what hundreds of people who know him have testified: that he is a person of good moral character as evidenced by his dedication to working for the most oppressed inhabitants of his adopted homeland.
Some in his position might reject the United States’ cruel treatment, but Eduardo’s strong Christian faith has kept him turning the other cheek time and again. When this nation’s law nearly forces him out of his home, he continues to speak calmly in support of his and other immigrants’ rights.
During dinner at Agape, Eduardo shared that he had been burned in a tragic accident while in the US and was hospitalized for an extended time with scars over 35% of his body. We shared the plight of our sixteen year old friend, Omar Mahmood, who had sustained burns over 65% of his body after an American attack on his family car. Eduardo expressed his willingness to meet with Omar, a meeting which never happened: “I am humbled by your trust and I thank you for sharing about Omar. I would be very happy to meet with Omar. … What he’s been through touches my heart in too many more ways than I could possibly describe. Eduardo.”