RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A young Durham woman is facing deportation on the day she was to be married.
Friends and family are trying to keep her in the country — which they say is equivalent to saving her life. But federal immigration authorities say she’s already had her day in court.
Wendy Noemi Miranda-Fernandez came into the country in 2008 at the age of 14 from El Salvador. Family and friends say she came out of fear for her life. They say she witnessed a murder committed by a gang in El Salvador before escaping the country.
ICE took her into custody in March, and now she is facing deportation. Her fiance is hoping to bring her home.
Miranda was arrested when she went to a Charlotte ICE office for a check-in, her fiance, Robert Paulino said.
“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep,” he said. “I wake up every two or three hours to check my phone.”
The couple met in 2010 at Riverside High School in Durham. They were supposed to get married Thursday, but instead of the planned ceremony, Paulino and his step-father were traveling nearly 400 miles to Georgia to try to save his betrothed.
Paulino still wanted to marry her Thursday, but instead Miranda was transferred to Louisiana.
“She’s scared,” he said. “She gets scared easily. She’s been scared the whole time she has been over there.”
And he said she has good cause to be scared.
“We are going to be sending her back to her death,” he said.
Nardine Guirguis, an immigration attorney, got the Miranda case last week. She says she’s been working nonstop to try and save Miranda.
“We received information very dire information that put her life at risk, and this was a recent and new development,” she said.
She said Miranda has no criminal history, and she has filed an emergency stay, as well as a new asylum filing with an immigration court.
“If we send a young lady who has been here since she was 14 to her home country, where she is sent back to die, we go against everything we stand for,” Guirguis.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking them not to deport Miranda until a motion she has filed in a U.S. court is heard.
“Ms. Miranda fears persecution by Mara Salvatrucha if she is returned to El Salvador,” the congressman wrote.
You can read the full letter here.