Two brothers from Maryland who were deported to their native El Salvador in August now have a new shot at college: soccer scholarships from an American university with a satellite campus in Nicaragua.
Lizandro and Diego Claros Saravia, who were deported Aug. 2 after a routine check-in with immigration authorities, will begin this fall as freshmen at Keiser University in San Marcos, Nicaragua, according to their sister, Fatima Claros Saravia.
A spokeswoman for the university said she could confirm the brothers' enrollment but could not provide any additional information because they had not signed release forms waiving their privacy rights.
"We are so excited for them," Fatima Claros Saravia said Tuesday, the same day the Trump administration said it would start to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation. "We will keep fighting to bring them back. We will keep fighting this president."
Fatima Claros Saravia, a DACA recipient whose work permit expires in January, said she is scared about her own future following the announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. She plans to apply for a two-year renewal of her permit, which the Department of Homeland Security is allowing for DACA recipients whose permits expire by March 5, 2018. But once it expires, her future is unclear.
"Of course I am worried for myself," she said. "But my family and I are also excited about the new opportunity that Lizandro and Diego have."
Lizandro, 19, and Diego, 22, entered the United States illegally in 2009, too late to qualify for DACA. They lived with their parents and siblings in Germantown, Md., and graduated from Quince Orchard High School. Lizandro, a star soccer player at the Bethesda Soccer Club, had a scholarship to play soccer at Louisburg College in North Carolina beginning this fall.
The brothers, who were caught coming into the country with fraudulent papers, were granted a stay of deportation in 2013. Subsequent applications for stays were denied.
Under the Obama administration, they were not a priority for removal because of their clean records and high school diplomas. But under President Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have said that anyone in violation of immigration law can be targeted for deportation.
Now they are living with extended family in a small village in El Salvador, where high homicide rates have fueled a boom in the coffin-making business. They don't go out much. Their parents and siblings in Maryland worry about their safety.
"I don't know what we're going to do," Lizandro told The Washington Post last month from El Salvador. "I feel like in this country, I don't have a future."
Being deported means it will be hard for the brothers to reenter the United States legally. The process will probably take at least 10 years, said Nick Katz, a lawyer at the immigrant advocacy organization Casa, which represented the pair.