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Utah family seeking asylum deported

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Following tearful hugs from friends, members of the Correa family checked in, under the watchful eye of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, at the Salt Lake International Airport Thursday.

They're being deported back to their native Argentina, despite claims they were being harassed there for being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and because Claudio Correa was working for an American company.

Next month would have marked 10 years that the Correa family has been in the U.S. They came here legally on a Visa waiver but never left when it expired, while they applied for asylum.

Their asylum was denied and on Oct. 24, agents showed up at the family's American Fork home to take Claudio into custody. The Correas claim they never hid, and tried to go through the process the right way.

Even if you are a good citizen, you pay your taxes and you pay your bills and everything, you don't have a chance.

–Debora Zalazar

"Even if you are a good citizen, you pay your taxes and you pay your bills and everything, you don't have a chance," said Debora Zalazar, Claudio's wife. "It doesn't matter what kind of person you are."

Correa was brought to the airport from the Utah County Jail, where he's been in custody. The family was reunited after they were taken through security.

The couple's two children -- 14-year-old Magali and 17-year-old Kevin -- accompanied their mother.

"I don't know, it's going to be hard adapting to the new culture," said Kevin. "I've spent all my life here."

"It's going to be scary," he continued. "Going to school there is going to be difficult for me. I can speak the language not as well as I should."

Magali cried as she hugged a friend who came to the airport to tell her goodbye.

The Correas say they are taking with them their experiences in America, the culture and most importantly many new friendships.

"A lot of people love us, and that's the best thing to take with us," Debora said.

Most of their belongings are being left behind. "To me personally, things are not important. My family, my son, my daughter and my husband, that's it, I can start over again," Debora added.

The family will stay with relatives initially. Debora Zalazar says they've had some job offers. She's an artist and has an offer from a studio. Correra has been working for a company that does specialty stained glass work.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement says there was no legal reason to keep the Correa's in the United States. They won't be allowed to return for at least 10 years.


Story written by Marc Giauque with contributions from Sam Penrod.


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