HHS grad to be deported

Brent Finnegan -- June 13th, 2009

There’s a story in today’s DNR about Maria Martinez; a 19 year-old who graduates from HHS today, only to be deported to El Salvador later this summer for living in the U.S. without authorization.

Maria’s mother was legal and so were her half brothers and sisters who were born here. So, in 2006, as a 16-year-old, Maria applied for citizenship. Her mother admits some regret now for that decision. Maria was denied and, by applying, the U.S. government knew, officially, she was here illegally.

On her 18th birthday, she would need to return to her grandmother’s home in El Salvador, or immigration officials would force her to leave the country. Read the full story.

73 Responses to “HHS grad to be deported”

  1. Renee says:

    I thought there was some special clause for children of legal citizens?

    So basically she would’ve been better off hiding from the government. That’s messed up – if children born here can stay even if their parents are illegal & deported, then parents legally here should surely be allowed to keep their children in the country??

  2. Renee says:

    I’m curious why she was denied citizenship when she applied?

  3. JGFitzgerald says:

    Can we trade her for a redneck dropout? We could even throw in his pickup.

  4. Delataire says:


    Why hasn’t the DNR carried this story?

  5. Republitarian says:

    I read that story this morning and I just had an awful feeling the whole day.

    How anyone can say that that is the right thing to do is beyond me?

  6. CitizenKnow says:

    She is getting a practical lesson in the rule of law… sometimes its not pleasant and telling the truth sometimes leads to results that aren’t what we hope for… She got a HS diploma from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth which will give her something to be competitive with back in her native country and even was allowed an extension to complete the education. Seems to me like she was treated more then fairly and she is to be applauded (if she indeed follows through) with voluntarily complying with the deportation order, which will allow her to go through the legal process, like many many many others have and will do.

    [Editor’s note: I approved this comment for the sake of advancing the discussion, but remind the commenter that our rule is that you give a valid email address when posting comments.]

  7. Renee says:

    Interestingly, the Bible Gateway Verse of the Day today is, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20

    It reminds me that our political borders are man-made. In some cases the letter of the law, though made with good intentions, doesn’t do the most good. The girl’s family is here legally, she has learned English and graduated and volunteered and tried to get citizenship instead of hiding from the government, and it’s just not right to send her back to a third-world country alone.

    I wrote more of what I think as commenter #13 & #14 on the DNR article.

  8. “go through the legal process, like many many many others have and will do.”

    Could you please enlighten us: what process is that? Give us details.

  9. Don says:

    “…legal process” query not directed at me but in the spirit of enlightenment, try here:


    I learned a lot about the process from that website.

  10. Jamie Smith says:

    Since her parents paid to have her brought here illegally maybe the thing to do is send them back and let her stay here.

  11. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    I’m not an expert on immigration law, but from my understanding when people do voluntary deportation and they have lived in the US for more than a year without authorization, they are barred from returning (under any type of visa, even a tourist visa) for ten years. By that time Maria will be 28 and no longer a minor child, putting her in a “preference category” less likely to get a visa.

    Depending on how her parents got their legal status (it’s not clear if they’re citizens or lawful permanent residents from the article), there may have been no realistic way for them to come legally originally.

  12. Jamie Smith says:

    Since Evan Thomas has declared President Obama a God, perhaps we can seek some divine intervention. Senators Webb and Warner and even Billy Bob Goodlatte might be able to get the President’s attention to this matter. He (Obama) gave a kid an excuse to miss class the other day, this is much more important than that, (if the parents voted democratic)

  13. seth says:

    this is tough…..
    unless we’re going to come up with a better system though, there are going to be some harsh realities.

    i’m a bit troubled by by the line of thinking that says that she’d have been better off not to apply for citizenship. while it sucks, i’d hope that going back there with HS diploma would afford better opportunities than illegal employment in the shadows of this country. probably not though, huh?

  14. Drew Richard says:

    The thing I’m not understanding from CitizenKnow’s comment, is if people are (understandably) bitter about her getting an education on our dollar…why are we then shipping her back to her home country? Why not let her become a citizen, enter the workforce, and start paying taxes?? Let her give something back instead of paying for her to be educated and then throwing all that money away.

  15. Chris Bell says:

    I see the commenters are representing in true DNR fashion

  16. Renee says:

    Chris, I’ve read what the DNR commenters have to say, and we’re having a much more civil discussion here for the most part :)

  17. Renee says:

    seth, I’m not saying it would have been better for her to hide from the gov’t, but that ultimately she would have been “better off” doing that (from the survival perspective of being able to stay in the US instead of in a 3rd world country).

    I think the best thing would be to find a way to get Maria legal status, let her go to college and work here and pay taxes, and have a much better life here in the USA now that ‘the damage has been done’.

  18. David Miller says:

    Perhaps the sympathy that this so obviously requires can show us that we should define our “Rule of Law” so as to benefit humans, not profits. Perhaps that’s what THE RULE OF LAW should be for in the first place. Does anyone that supports global trade want to explain to me why capital can readily span National borders and yet this family cannot do so to be together?

  19. Justin says:

    So we paid for her education and then we don’t get anything in return to society. Then we pay to ship her out? Awesome.

  20. bill says:

    I feel bad for her, and I hope that everything works out for her and her family. That being said, the law is the law, and we shouldn’t pick and choose which laws we obey just because they tug at our heartstrings more than other offenses or because we personally don’t understand the reason for such an action to be illegal. I’m a relatively conservative guy, but I have nothing against immigration as long as it is LEGAL (I also firmly believe that our system needs a big overhaul about 5 years ago). If we got to pick and choose enforcement of the legal system all the time, order would be in short supply.

  21. cook says:

    Having been out of town and disconnected from the matrix, I am coming late to this discussion. Three points. (a) There are hundreds of similar situations all around us. Maria’s story is now public knowledge, but most in her situation choose to remain silent. (b) Her dire situation is artificially created. By us. If a law was passed lowering the speed limit on Interstate 81 to 10 miles per hour, would we have a speeding crisis? Yes. But, at the same time, no: we’d have a stupid law that needs to be changed, and the speeding crisis would be solved with the stroke of a pen. Certainly our “illegal immigration crisis” is more complex, but just as artificial. (c) Is there an immoral actor in Maria’s story? Candidates for the role include: (1) Maria, (2) Maria’s parents, (3) the coyotes who brought them here, and (4) we who created and support the system in which Maria is trapped.

  22. seth says:

    intelligent commentary as usual, but i’m not quite sure what you’re getting at w/ (c). more specifically, i’m not sure whether it’s relevant whether or not there’s an immoral actor. many of our laws exist not to punish immorality, but rather to maintain. i got a ticket for an expired inspection on my vehicle yesterday. in this situation, i broke the law and will accept the punishment for it. i don’t mean to equate maria’s situation (which i do find very troubling in many ways) to something that obviously pales in comparison when we look at the punishment/consequences, only to say that with many of our laws, there need not necessarily be an immoral actor.

  23. JGFitzgerald says:

    Do any of us really need a set of laws to protect us against Maria?

  24. seth says:

    lots of states don’t require vehicle safety inspections…..

    no, we don’t. but we do need laws that somehow regulate the influx of people into our country.

    or don’t we?

  25. David Miller says:


    Do you buy goods that are produced outside of the United States?

    Why can you do that but not find it in your heart to let people move along with capital, in a capitalist market approach?

  26. seth says:

    i do….

    i’m just curious whether we believe there are possible legislative solutions or whether we really think amnesty should be granted on an individual case by case basis, depending on how sympathetic the public at large is to the individual in question.

  27. Mark says:

    I’ve been watching this conversation for days now, and I think Seth summed it up perfectly in his last response. Do we think amnesty should be granted on a case by case basis, or should we follow the letter of the law? Let’s assume that instead of Maria, we were talking about a gang member who came to the U.S. illegally, although his/her parents were here legally. Would we still be having this discussion? Should gaining a high school diploma and becoming a good citizen trump our existing laws? I’m not saying that Maria should be deported..for all I know, she may be a productive citizen. I truly feel for her situation, but where do we draw the line? Isn’t that what laws are for?

  28. cook says:

    “Isn’t that what laws are for?” And now we come to a more fundamental problem: We need families such as Maria’s to come to work in the US, but our laws provide no avenues for them to obtain a status. I know the DNR makes the claim that Maria’s family is “legal,” but the article lacks precision, making it difficult to know what status her mother holds and how she obtained it. I’m betting she holds permanent residency (or citizenship) obtained originally through the 1986 Amnesty or she holds TPS, and neither negates my argument.

  29. Renee says:

    Now, I admit I’m relatively new to the “immigration debate” and am still forming opinions, but it seems to me that the law could be changed in this way:
    1) If a parent is here legally (and working/paying taxes)
    2) If they have a child under 18 they want to bring here, they can
    3) If the child does not get in any criminal trouble such as gangs/drugs and stays in school
    4) If the child goes through the typical citizenship paths, including learning certain US facts, English, etc.
    5) When the child graduates high school, they get citizenship

    On the other hand, if the kid gets in trouble with the law and is contributing to problems many people associate with illegal immigrants, that are damaging to the US, then they have not earned the right to stay here with their parents, because they have gone off the “path to citizenship”.

    Unfortunately, this may mean some investment in some students’ schooling gets lost, but with the incentive of becoming a citizen and getting to stay here with their parents, I think these kids could grow into productive citizens.

    Now, notice that this is a special case where the parent has legal status and the child doesn’t, which is the reverse of most situations where the child is born here and is therefore a citizen, while the parents are illegal and risk deportation.

  30. David Miller says:


    Good point, our current laws are defunct and require attention.

  31. David Miller says:


    Your point is specific and necessary. Without legal means for obtaining citizenship it’s either starve/suffer or break the law. I can guess which choice each of us would choose.

  32. Delataire says:

    “Comment from JGFitzgerald
    Time: June 18, 2009, 11:50 am

    Do any of us really need a set of laws to protect us against Maria?”

    Yes Joe, we do. Everyone is “equal under the law”, be it Maria or someone worse, who is illegally entering the country.

    “Comment from David Miller
    Time: June 18, 2009, 2:06 pm


    Do you buy goods that are produced outside of the United States?

    Why can you do that but not find it in your heart to let people move along with capital, in a capitalist market approach?”

    Dave, human trafficking uses capital and a capitalist market approach. Are you saying that the victims of it should be ferried along, or should they be set free? If the victims of human trafficking should be freed and returned home, why not Maria who likewise broke a law. She too should go back to her country of origin.

  33. JGFitzgerald says:


    You may need protection from this girl. I don’t. The question was rhetorical. (That means a question where the person asking it believes only a fool would answer it in a particular way.) Where’s the menace? Where’s the crime? What is it that you people are afraid of?

  34. Delataire says:

    Joe, there is nothing for me to fear. However, we do have laws. Laws that like them or not, are there to provide order. If we choose to ignore them, for whatever reason, we have chaos.

    Maria and her parents broke a law. Unfortunately for Maria she has to pay the price of it. I wonder if Maria’s parents will have to pay a fine or penalty for smuggling their child into the country illegally? I hold Maria’s parents to be responsible for this situation.

  35. JGFitzgerald says:

    Order. A decidedly Teutonic concept. When you start saying that laws must be obeyed simply because they are laws, with no regard to the reasons behind them, you may as well say that we need the laws for their own sake, and not for our own. There is no value to society, no benefit to society, either to the way these laws are written, or to their application in this case. The good is not for us, but for a need for order. If you need order that badly, organize your sock drawer.

  36. seth says:

    do you know how hard it is to keep socks in pairs when you only have one foot?

  37. There is a law in Virginia against adultery, one of the that is based on the Ten Commandments, which many think are the basis of our laws (the only other of the Ten that show up as laws are those against murder, theft, and bearing false witness [perjury]). The law against adultery is almost never enforced, with the last time being when the mistress of a DA in Luray busted him when he started cheating on her.

    Is our “failure” to more regularly enforce our laws against adultery leading us to “chaos”?

  38. David Miller says:


    I wasn’t referring to Human Trafficking. I was referring to the inequity of our current capitalist system in which capital (money) can move across borders to achieve the path of least resistance (ie most profitable and beneficial place for it to be expended) but people do not have the right to do the same.

    Let’s remember that the breaking of the law is not what the discussion is about. The facts are set, the laws are broken and “appropriate” justice has been dealt. The discussion seems to be about the inequity of our current immigration laws. These are Xenophobic laws that exist within the nation which has most embraced Globalization (or the nation whose corporations at least have most embraced globalization) and are inherently hypocritical.

  39. Delataire says:

    David, human trafficking was an example of people following money across borders. Your previous post came across as you equating people being no different than machines in a factory.

    I would not call our so-called immigration laws xenophobic. Unenforced, ignored, not cared for unless there is an election; yes. As for inequities in the laws, I blame the Hart Cellar act for that, as a starting point.

    What would you do to make things equitable?

  40. David Miller says:

    I would like to see reform in our trade and immigration policies that places a priority upon humans and not upon trade. Our humanity must be our guide in how we choose to do business.

  41. There’s a follow-up story in today’s DNR.

    On Thursday, a reporter and photographer from The New York Times are scheduled to travel to Harrisonburg to interview Martinez, Mercer said.

  42. Renee says:

    Great, it looks like this story is about to be in the national spotlight via the Times. Hopefully our nation can have some intelligent discussion on what the problems in our immigration system are, and what are some acceptable solutions. I think at a minimum it needs to be discussed, and hopefully some changes can come out of that discussion.

  43. eso says:

    Can an illegal within the US actually obtain citizenship or residency status?

  44. JGFitzgerald says:


    “Illegal” is an adjective, not a noun.

  45. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    “Undocumented immigrant” tends to be a slightly more humanizing term than “illegal alien.” It also puts more of the focus on the brokenness/shortcomings of current laws rather than on the “criminal” nature of those without legally acceptable status.

  46. Brooke says:

    “I would like to see reform in our trade and immigration policies that places a priority upon humans and not upon trade. Our humanity must be our guide in how we choose to do business.”

    A little late, but, here, here, David! Couldn’t have said it better.

    I think the fact that her parents even had to resort to smuggling their minor child into the country is shining a huge spotlight on some of the problems with our current immigration laws. Gone are the days of Ellis Island (although everyone and their brother wants to ask “why don’t they just do it legally like my great-great grandpa did back at Ellis Island.”). Some of the people coming here are sacrificing no less than those who sacrificed everything to board a boat for the promise of America, and yet, we treat them like garbage and vermin, and make horrible, unfair generalizations about their motives for coming here illegally. We need to take a good hard look at the system and make sure that if someone truly wants to come here, and work hard, and contribute to society and make a better life of their kids, that they can do so, and that we’re not inadvertently causing more problems than we’re fixing with our immigration system.

  47. Delataire says:

    Nicholas, would you create a humanizing term for another criminal? Perhaps calling a rapist a comfort extractor? A murderer a life depriver? If you’re going to make a touchy feely term for one type of criminal why not do it for all?

    Brooke, would you care to list what you see as possible motives for a person coming to the country illegally are?

  48. JGFitzgerald says:


    Perhaps we’ve found the root of your exaggerated fear of immigrants. The word “criminal” does not apply. Being in this country without documentation is not technically a criminal act. As for a humanizing term for a killer, it would depend on whom he killed, wouldn’t it?

  49. Delataire says:


    a person guilty of a crime
    1. of or relating to crime or its punishment
    2. Informal senseless or disgraceful
    criminally adv
    criminality n
    Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006

    Maria entered the country illegally. It is a crime, therefore, she is a criminal.

    A few months ago when all the cars were broken into downtown; what would you call the people that did it? Criminals or not?

    It’s not a “fear of immigrants”. It’s a desire to have people obey the laws. You don’t want someone to mug you, rape your wife, break into your car or home, do you?

    That’s why we have laws, to prevent and punish those who do criminal acts. It’s part of having an orderly society. Though you apparently do not wish for law and order, but rather would have somekind of touchy feely free for all.

    Your previous posts in this thread of, trade Maria for a redneck and throw in his pickup for free, order being Teutonic, and now implying that it’s ok to murder some people but not others. You make me wonder Joe, if you’re so full of “white guilt” that you have become a racist. An anti-White (unless they agree with you), self hating, Europhobe, racist.

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