OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — "These judges literally have blood on their hands, this happens all the time," said Lacy Lorenzo, wife of Luis Lorenzo.
Luis came to the United States from Guatemala when he was 8 years old.
As an adult, he did have several criminal charges on his record. All of them, with the exception of some minor infractions, were eventually dismissed.
"His family fled because they had political ties to opposition parties to the current government at the time and even up to this day. Until very recently, he has had cousins and uncles who were murdered, who were shot, who were assaulted, who had to flee to the U.S. This was going back decades that his family has been targeted for their political affiliations and for their family ties," said Brian Blackford, an attorney with Blackford Law.
The charge against him that was not dropped was "alien in possession of a firearm." He was accused of trying to sell a gun at a pawn shop and it is a federal offense for a person who is not a citizen of the United States to be in possession of a firearm. Lorenzo was in the deportation process because of this charge.
"That was their argument to the judge, that he is going to suffer the same fate if he goes back there, this is not something that occurred 30 years ago and then stopped, these are ongoing issues. Then you combine that with the fact that the Guatemalan government is notorious for not only being corrupt, but also sometimes being involved in a lot of crime down there, and certainly not able to prevent harm to him. He very succinctly told the judge that he would be killed if she sent him back there," said Blackford.
"He didn't even make it six months and he was shot and killed, in front of the same house..... that we told her it would be in," said Lacy.
During his deportation hearing, Lorenzo’s attorney provided hundreds of documents to prove his life would be in danger if he were to return.
"If we can save one family, and change one judge's mind, just to listen when these people are telling you. I understand that it's a court system and they hear excuses all the time, but when somebody puts something in front of you in black-and-white... don't close your eyes, don't close your ears, have a heart," said Lacey.
After Lorenzo was deported he sought help from Guatemalan police.
"He went to the police multiple times to report these threats for his life, and yet, instead of helping him, they asked for money. Whether that was for protection or not, clearly if it was for protection, it didn't work out because he wasn't protected, he was murdered," said Blackford.
Lorenzo's wife and children are American-born citizens and the rest of his family have received U.S. citizenship.
"My husband's papers were in process. We were doing things the right way. His just took a little bit longer because when his came due we had just had our first child. People don't understand how expensive it is," said Lacy.
She is disappointed in the system and said that if the judge kept him in holding, he would still be alive today.
"Are they going to send me a letter in the mail and tell me that they granted his papers now, now he is a citizen? No, they are not, because he will never make it to that interview. With the virus in process, it just takes longer. His paperwork has been in process since June 8th of 2019 and he hasn't even received a first interview," said Lacy.
She hopes that by sharing their story, another family can be saved from the pain she is currently feeling.
"I have two babies that will never have a dad. I have a little girl who will never have her dad walk her down the aisle, that will never be there for when they graduate," Lacy said.
Now, the family is battling to bring Luis’ body back to the United States for burial.