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Utah Mother of Five Faces Deportation; Friends and Family Plead for Help

Andrea Smardon

A Utah County woman with five young children may be deported to Mexico next week. But her family and community advocates are trying to stop that from happening. They met with representatives from Utah's congressional delegation Wednesday, pleading for help and for immigration reform. 

Brenda Guzman-Sandoval was arrested by Utah County Police on March 20th at her home in Orem.  Her 17-year-old brother Moices Guzman was there.

“They just took her away, they didn’t even give her a chance to explain herself,” Guzman says. “She has five kids here, asking for her every day. It’s not fair.”

23-year-old Brenda Guzman-Sandoval came to the U.S. illegally with her family when she was six. Over the summer, she pleaded guilty to using a fake Social Security card to get a payday loan. For that reason, she is expected to be deported next week, but supporters say she was complying with the terms of her probation. Raymi Gutierrez is with the Salt Lake Dream Team. Standing outside Utah Senator Mike Lee’s office, she shakes with emotion. 

“It doesn’t make sense to me that they’re talking about immigration reform at the same time they are deporting families, they are deporting mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, they are deporting people who have potential in this country,” Gutierrez says.

Guzman-Sandoval’s supporters delivered petitions to Republican Senator Mike Lee and Democratic Representative Jim Matheson asking for a stay of deportation, and for immigration reform. Senator Mike Lee declined an interview but said in a statement that he is committed to dealing humanely with those that are in the country illegally. Matheson says deportation – particularly when it breaks apart families - is a difficult situation. 

“I do think we’re a nation of laws, and we ought to hold everyone accountable to play by the rules,” Matheson says. “But I also believe that there is a sense that I hear across the political spectrum frankly about the value of humane treatment and of maintaining family units.” 

Matheson says the good news is he sees more interest in Congress in addressing immigration issues than he has for his entire career. While Brenda Guzman-Sandoval sits in Utah County jail awaiting deportation, a bipartisan group of Senators known as the Gang of 8 are expected to come out with an immigration plan as soon as next week.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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