chapter  8
Legal exclusion and dislocated subjectivities: the deportation of Salvadoran youth from the United States
Pages 15

In July 2008, I had the opportunity to interview Marcus López at the offices of an immigrant rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) in San Salvador. With the assistance of an alien smuggler, Marcus had migrated to the United States ten years earlier, at the age of 12. He left behind his adoptive mother and grandmother, who had raised him, to move in with his father, who had left El Salvador during the 1980-1992 civil war. His reunion with his father, who he barely remembered, was not what he had hoped. When his father evicted him, Marcus had to rent an apartment and work full time even though he was still in high school. Marcus got a work permit by applying for legal permanent residency through the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, but the paperwork was handled by his father. Under pressure to join the gangs that were common in his Washington D.C. neighborhood, Marcus had to carefully negotiate his relationships with other young people. When his girlfriend became pregnant, Marcus took a second job, but, he related: ‘Money wasn’t enough. I remember one of my friends . . . taught me how to steal things from cars. Stereos and stuff like that. I was still 17’. Marcus was caught and charged with a misdemeanor, to which he pled guilty. Then, when he was 18, Marcus was charged with attempted sexual assault of an underage girl, a charge that he said was fabricated. Marcus again pled guilty and was sentenced to six years of probation. Realizing that he was at risk of deportation, Marcus and his girlfriend, a US citizen, got married, and he obtained a better job. Nonetheless, one day Marcus was taken into custody by immigration officers. He was then held without bail, denied a hearing before an immigration judge, subjected to frequent transfers without notice, and continually pressured to sign deportation papers. Without money for an attorney, Marcus eventually signed. He was deported to El Salvador at the age of 21 in 2007. There, he feared that he would be mistaken for a gang member and killed.