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Know Your Rights
Source: NBC
Subject: Immigration

Family of Afro Indigenous activist in immigration detention worries he may be deported back to danger

Erlin Centeno’s family has feared being permanently separated since the father of three children was detained four months ago following a routine check-in with immigration authorities in New York City.

The lives of Centeno and his family were endangered after four of his cousins were killed and he started receiving many letters and text messages containing death threats, according to court transcripts obtained by NBC News of his testimony to an immigration judge. The threats were a result of the work he and his cousins did defending the territorial rights of Afro Indigenous communities in his homeland known as Garifuna, according to Centeno and his wife.

The emotional toll of Centeno’s detention was weighing heavily on his wife, Trini Merced Palacios, as she sat down with NBC News on June 13 to open up about her husband’s immigration plight for the first time.

“I feel very bad every time I talk about that,” the 35-year-old woman said in Spanish. Tears streamed down her face as she held her restless 2-year-old daughter, Genesis, who had not been able to sleep well since her father’s detention, according to Palacios.

Sometimes, when Genesis seems to be asleep, she suddenly wakes up, calling “papá, papá,” the mother said. “So, I tell her, ‘You’ll see Dad soon.’”

But Palacios doesn’t actually know if or when the family will be reunited.

“My fear is that they will deport him to Honduras, where he had death threats,” she said.