A Charlotte teen who claims he fled El Salvador to avoid being killed by drug gangs has been deported back to his home country by the Obama administration.
The teen, Pedro Salmeron, was among six North Carolina immigrant teens from Central America who were arrested after coming to the country seeking asylum. They were called the NC6 by immigrant advocates. Two of the six were arrested in Charlotte.
U.S immigration officials have not confirmed Salmeron was removed, but advocates say he was flown out of the country on Nov. 12, after being held for more than six months at a Georgia detention center.
The other Charlotte teen among the NC6, Yefri Sorto-Hernandez, was released from federal custody on $30,000 bond in June. He is awaiting the outcome of a bid to stay legally in the country. Sorto-Hernandez was on his way to class at West Mecklenburg High when arrested this year by immigration agents.
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Yefri Sorto-Hernandez and Pedro Arturo Salmeron were minors when they crossed the border from Mexico into Texas in 2014.
They were part of a flood of Central American minors who showed up without parents at the U.S. border between 2009 and 2014. Most said they were escaping violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, countries that have some of the world’s highest murder rates. They were willing to make the dangerous journey based on word-of-mouth knowledge of a Bush-era law that requires unaccompanied children from Central America to be given immigration court consideration and possible asylum.
Advocates for such teens have criticized the Obama administration for setting records in the numbers of people it has deported, including teens like Salmeron. Pew Research Center studies show the administration deported more unauthorized immigrants during its first six years than the Republican George W. Bush administration did over its full eight.
A total 2.4 million were deported under the administration from fiscal 2009 to 2014, including a record 435,000 in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the data.