“The thought of that last minute with them, I don’t want that moment to ever come, but I’m trying to prepare for that difficult moment.” He also becomes silent and again teary when he talks about seeing his and Chocoj’s eldest son Jonathan, now 20, who lives in Guatemala. “I left him as a baby and now he is a man, I have to be strong,’’ he said. He said returning to Guatemala would be difficult since he hadn’t been in the country in so long.
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He and his wife, who also came to the country unauthorized, considered moving into a church to seek sanctuary from deportation, but nixed the idea, which several people facing deportation across the country have done.
Sanctuary would have bought him time in the United States, but Estrada Lopez reasoned that it could have consequences for the family he was leaving behind, Chocoj said.
He was held at the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility with other immigrant detainees for nearly a year.
While in custody, Estrada Lopez applied for asylum, claiming he left Guatemala to flee gangs that pressured him for money and threatened his family.
He bought travel insurance with the ticket hoping that he would be given a reprieve and allowed to stay.
The past week was fraught with emotion as Estrada Lopez attempted to console his children and wife while he tried to make sense of his future.
He said his dad told him before he left “that he loves me and told me to take care of my brother and sister and mom.” Estrada Lopez is among the approximately 11 million people who have been living in the county illegally and who have become the targets of policies by the Trump administration that aim to clamp down on illegal immigration.
President Donald Trump has directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to follow the nation’s immigration laws.
His removal on Saturday will be added to the 2,095 deportations carried out by the enforcement and removal arm of ICE in Newark since October -- a 34 percent increase from the 1,561 people removed last fiscal year during the same time period, according to figures provided by the agency this week. 1 until the end of July, nearly 50,000 unauthorized immigrants were ordered deported from the United States, an increase of 27.8 percent from last year. Jose Estrada Lopez cries by his son Christopher while he waits for his ride to the airport. Supporters of Trump and his immigration directives approve of those rising numbers, saying that the president is keeping his campaign promises to expand immigration enforcement and deport unauthorized immigrants.