Nearly a year after a judge rejected Santos Chirino’s case for asylum, his 18-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son returned to the very same courtroom to plead their own.
“Your honor, this is a difficult case,” their father’s lawyer, Benjamin Osorio, told Judge John Bryant. “I represented their father, Santos Chirino Cruz. … I lost the case in this courtroom. … He was murdered in April.”
As Maria Sacchetti described for The Washington Post, “Osorio paused, and the judge blanched and stammered.”
“You said their father’s case — did I understand I heard [it]?” Bryant asked, eyes wide.
“No,” Osorio said. “In this court. Not before your honor.”
“Well good, because — all right, my blood pressure can go down now,” Bryant said. “Yeah. I mean. Okay.”
Chirino is one of more than 60 people who have been killed or harmed after being deported, according to Columbia University’s Global Migration Project; the government doesn’t keep track of what happens to asylum-seekers who are deported.
When Chirino appeared in immigration court, his lawyer told a judge how MS-13 gang members had stabbed Chirino with a screwdriver at a soccer game in Northern Virginia.
He told him that Chirino’s testimony had helped send the men first to jail, and later back to Honduras, where they were waiting for him to be deported, too. He read letters from Chirino’s relatives in Honduras describing how “death [wa]s waiting for him” there.
But Osorio failed to persuade the judge to grant his client asylum, and Chirino was deported.
A little more than six months later, the lawyer answered a phone call from Chirino’s daughter, screaming: Chirino had been found in a red Toyota pickup, shot in the throat. His brother had been found nearby, his head apparently bashed in with a rock found next to his body.
Chirino’s children are two of the 750,000 immigrants currently facing deportation in US…