Utah family speaks after father deported to Samoa due to misdemeanor from 2006

Posted at 9:26 PM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 23:28:50-04

CACHE COUNTY, Utah -- Three weeks ago Aufanua Manusina was at the immigration office with his wife, Sauelelee, trying to obtain citizenship.

"We were waiting in the lobby and the officer came back out and told us we had to leave; my husband is not coming home with us," Manusina said.

His wife never saw this coming.

"I had no idea that this is going to happen, that we're going to end up like this. I'm going to end up being a single mother," Manusina said.

After living in the country for more than 15 years, her husband was deported because of a misdemeanor charge from eleven years ago, according to their lawyer, Aria Nejad.

"What's changed is under the Obama administration they were going after felons, typically, anyone who was a threat to the streets: That's where our resources were being focused," Nejad said. "Now it’s anyone who has committed a crime."

In 2006, Manusina got into a fight at a bar and was going to be deported, but an immigration judge decided it was a minor crime and gave him another chance.

"He got an employee authorization card," Nejad said. "He's been working since then under the condition that he doesn't cause any more crimes."

All he's done since is work and raise a family.

"The community lost someone who's an active church member and he's a skilled employee," Nejad said. "His employer is very upset right now, so Utah businesses are suffering."

He spent three weeks in the Cache County Jail and he was sent back to Samoa Tuesday night.

Saueleele has been telling her three young kids that dad's just working.

"They keep asking me every time we come home before we go to sleep, they ask me what time daddy is getting off work," Manusina said.

Unsure what the future holds without the rock of her family.

"I have to lie to my kids just so they don't think about him every day, knowing that he's not going to be home," Manusina said.

Their lawyer is working on getting him a visa through his mother, who is an American citizen, but that could take several years.

They're only hope is that someone in a position of political influence might be able to step in and help them get an expedited visa so he can be reunited with his family.

Supporters have created a GoFundMe page to raise funds to assist the Manusina family.