A 33-year-old father of two American-born children was permitted to return to the U.S. on Monday, two years after being exiled to El Salvador during the first months of the Trump administration.
Jose Escobar was welcomed at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport by a group of supporters. He was followed by his wife, Rose, and their two children, Walter and Carmen, who had flown to El Salvador in June to visit him. They were in El Salvador when they got word that U.S. immigration authorities had approved reservations that would allow him to return to the U.S. legally.
Escobar was a teenager when his family settled in the U.S. in 2001 with temporary protected status, which was allowed to Salvadorans who were victims of earthquakes that year. He married Rose in 2006, the same year he learned that his family hadn’t filed the paperwork necessary for him to recover his visa.
He was living in the U.S. without authorization, and an immigration judge ordered his deportation that year. His wife and children are all U.S. citizens.
Escobar was arrested in 2011 — during the administration of former President Barack Obama — and delayed for several months. After an intensive lobbying campaign, the local field office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Escobar in January 2012 “so he could get his affairs in order,” the agency stated last year.
In February 2017, shortly after Trump took office and increased the priorities for detaining and deporting immigrants without authorization, Escobar was arrested during what was supposed to be a routine ICE check-in.
The next month, he was deported to El Salvador. He called his wife from the San Salvador airport to tell her what had happened.
Escobar moved to a town that’s about three hours from San Salvador, living with relatives and working intermittently as a laborer.
He had video calls with his family at night, but he was often scared and worried about leaving the family home, as the gangs roaming the streets were known to target people who had come back from America and once held him up. He would watch the video from his home’s security cameras remotely.