Two teenage boys from El Salvador filed a brief with the 10th Circuit Court last week in their final attempt to persuade the United States to not deport them from Utah.
Job and Geovanny Canenguez were featured in the recent City Weekly cover story "Homeland Insecurity," which told of how their mother, Ana, came to the United States illegally in search of work to send money back home for her five children. Eventually, because of threats by gangs and extortionists against her children, she brought them to the United States illegally. Now, Ana and four of her children face being deported.
The brief by attorneys Ed Carter and Christopher Keen, who represent Job and Geovanny, goes into some detail regarding the educational history of the two boys in El Salvador and how their commitment to bettering themselves made them a target of gangs seeking to recruit young boys to bolster their ranks.
Carter sat down at the beginning of January with the Trementon family to prepare the brief. "Their commitment seemed pretty remarkable to me," he says. "They've been here two and a half years and, from the beginning, dove into the culture, the language and school." The family's belief in education is "not just a pretext in this case, it's the defining characteristic in the family. Not everybody has that determination and aptitude."
The brief seeks to address the reason why the boys sought asylum in the first case, namely their fear of gang recruitment in El Salvador. But it also has to tackle the thorny issue that then-immigration Judge Dustin Pead refused to give the boys' former attorney, Herman Flores, additional time to prepare his case. That was because a Catholic organization that supposedly represented them had dropped them at the last moment after the case had already been postponed several times.
Pead asked Flores to effectively present at least the basic arguments for asylum, including having the boys testify on their behalf, but when that didn't happen, Pead ruled against them. The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that Pead's decision had been correct.
Now, Carter seeks to have the 10th Circuit of Appeals address not only the failure to look at the boys' asylum claim and the judge's refusal to grant a continuance, but also whether they were eligible for "relief under the Convention of Torture."
Carter told the family that despite such legal efforts, there may still come that knock at the door they all fear. "You have to be prepared for the worst," he says. "Just know that day might come, and that happens."
While he has worked with many families facing similar issues, the Canenguez family, he says, with their commitment to education, to being the best people they can be, are one of those "that stands out. They are well deserving of something good."
Read their brief below.