Naples woman says husband faces imminent deportation to Guatemala
PORTLAND (WGME) -- The wife of a Naples man detained by federal immigration officials says he could be deported to his native Guatemala as soon as Thursday.
Sandra Merlim said her husband, Otto Morales-Caballeros, 37, has spent the past 20 years living and working in Maine, but with his latest appeal denied, he'll be on a plane back to his native country any day now.
"His boots are still by the door," Merlim said, "His favorite fishing pole is still in the corner."
Sandra merlim said she had just handed her husband his lunch and kissed him goodbye on April 12, when he was abruptly taken by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
"My heart dropped like a bomb in my chest," said Merlim.
She said her husband, who goes by his middle name Daniel, fled violence in his home country as a teen and arrived without documents, too scared to apply for asylum.
Merlim said a 2010 removal order was never acted on, not even in 2013 when Morales-Cabelleros faced felony federal charges for using a fake social security number so he could work.
"We have since been going through this process to try to get him to legal status," said Merlim. "Checking in with ICE weekly."
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump ordered immigration laws be enforced more aggressively against anyone in the country illegally.
A spokesperson for ICE issue this statement: "On April 12, ICE officers arrested Otto Morales-Caballeros, a citizen of Guatemala, on an outstanding removal (deportation) order issued by a federal immigration judge in 2010. Otto Morales-Caballeros was convicted on federal charges of felony use of fraudulent documents in 2013. As a criminal alien with a lawful final order of removal he will remain in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States."
"This isn't about politics, it's about real people just trying to live their lives and suddenly being torn apart," said Merlim.
Merlim said she's not done fighting, but first she's trying to find a way to get to Guatemala.
"We've been together for 11 happy years and I'm not ready to say goodbye, only, 'I'll see you soon, Mi amor.' My love," said Merlim.
Merlim said her husband is being held at a facility in Louisiana, often the last stop for detainees before they're deported.
She's started a Go Fund Me page to help in the legal fight to bring him home.