Utah father of 4 deported for 11-year-old misdemeanor

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WEST VALLEY CITY — A West Valley father of four who's been in Utah for 15 years and has an up-to-date work authorization card was deported Tuesday without warning.

Tuesday night, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement put Aufanua Manusina on a plane and sent him back to his native country of Samoa.

“Right now, I’m struggling,” Saueleele Manusina said, getting emotional. “I’m a single mom now. I don’t know what to do because I don't have family here and only him."

An emotional mother of four is trying to wrap her head around why her husband was suddenly sent back to Samoa. She said the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement called him June 20 while he was at his construction job to come in and update some records. Little did she know that her husband was going to be deported.

“The officer came back out and told us that we have to go home, my husband’s not coming home with us, they're going to detain him,” she said.

At that time, she wasn't told why he was being detained. He remained in ICE custody until he was deported Tuesday.

Aria Nejad, the family's attorney, said Manusina was legally allowed to work in the U.S., and since his mother is a U.S. citizen, he was working toward the same status.

“He already had an employee authorization card to work here. He was a taxpayer,” Nejad said.

But it was a decade old petty crime, a fight, that prompted his removal.

“Eleven years ago, he has a misdemeanor, and he’s never had another issue since with law enforcement,” Nejad said. “But with the current administration, even prior crimes, they can reopen those old cases."

So without warning, the father of four was torn from his family. His wife is struggling to understand it all and said he was their sole provider.

“This morning, my kids woke up and they just came into my room and asked me if they could talk to their dad, if they can see him,” she said. “I don’t even know how to explain it.”

It’s a new normal Nejad said.

“The arrests and removal proceedings for noncriminals has doubled in the last six months,” he said.

And normal families like this one are caught in the middle of.

“This is a person that is active in the community here, an active churchgoer, and now he’s gone unfortunately,” the attorney said.

“It’s just not fair,” Saueleele Manusina said.


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Nicole Vowell


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