"I married him for better or worse, til death do us part, not until deportation do us part."

Imagine living somewhere for decades, putting down roots, getting married, creating a home, becoming part of a community, and then on a day like any other, you walk into work but all of a sudden are approached by officers who arrest you, put you into jail and then are deported back to where you were born but you do not call home.

Otto Morales-Caballeros was deported in 2017. He moved to Maine when he was 16 years old and built an entire life. Otto was living the American Dream that so many of our ancestors imagined doing when they came here from their respective countries.

Otto was born in Guatemala and moved to America at the end of the Guatemalan Civil War. Initially, when he moved to America, he didn't understand how to operate through the United States Immigration System. Otto says he was told to "fly under the radar." So, that's what he did, for 20 years he simply, flew under the radar for decades.

In 2017, ICE, which is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was cracking down under the Trump Administration enforcing the removal operation and they were deporting many immigrants who created a home here for many years. Otto was one of them whose name was flagged because he didn't go through the immigration process properly.

Do you think that deporting those who have lived here their whole lives may be a little extreme? Instead of the dramatic nature of sending them back to a place they don't call home, maybe sitting down with them and doing the paperwork correctly would make more sense?

I am neutral to this because I am not educated enough in the immigration system to make a sound opinion on this.

After being away from his loving wife, Sandra, for 4 years, he finally was able to come back to America to live. Sandra never gave up hope, she visited Otta twice in Guatemala in the four years that he was gone.

According to an article on News Center Maine, Otto was caught using fraudulent documents for employment. Otto says he was cooperative with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and tried for years to get legal immigration status.

"I knew this day would come, I just didn't know when. It was always a matter of time, I married him for better or for worse, until death do us part. Not until deportation do us part," Sandra Merlim said.

Watch as Otta is embraced by his wife as he returned from his long deportation below.

 

Sandra anxiously awaited Otto's arrival at the Portland Jetport on Sunday.

For decades, Otto lived a quiet life in Maine, and then it was all destroyed because he didn't do his immigration paperwork correctly.

After 4 years of trying to come back to the states, his wife had a serious medical event which allowed his return to be expedited.

When dealing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement as you are trying to get legal immigration status, make sure you read everything carefully, submit all paperwork correctly and get assistance if needed. Being educated about this is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself.

Many of our grandparents and great-grandparents were immigrants and came from different places to make a life here in Maine, let's treat everyone humanely and with dignity no matter where they are from.

At the end of the day, we all simply want love and to be loved.

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