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Northampton, Mass., resident is allowed back into U.S. while he applies for humanitarian visa

Eduardo Samaniego speaks at 2017 rally in Northampton, Massachusetts.
CAROL LOLLIS
/
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
Eduardo Samaniego speaks at 2017 rally in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Eduardo Samaniego began high school in Georgia unaware that he was not a legal resident of the U.S. He was fully aware by the time he began college in Northampton, Massachusetts, and held out little hope of returning at the time he was deported to Mexico in 2019.

But in a rare immigration ruling, Samaniego won humanitarian parole in the fall, which allowed him to return to the Pioneer Valley while a judge decides whether to issue him a humanitarian visa.

And Another Thing devotes Mondays to single interviews with people in western New England with unique experiences or challenges. The guest this week is Eduardo Samaniego.

Samaniego never hid his status, after realizing he was not a legal resident of the country. Without a social security number, he was unable to attend the University of Georgia as he had hoped. Instead, Samaniego accepted a full scholarship to Hampshire College in 2014. While attending school, he became an outspoken advocate for immigrant rights and organized demonstrations in Massachusetts and in Washington, D.C.

“I was, you know, young, and I thought I could do everything. But the fact that I didn't have access to education because I learned I didn't have a Social Security number was probably one of the most decisive points in my life,” Samaniego told And Another Thing. “But I learned to think of it as a fantastical that had to be overcome.”

It was during a return to Georgia that Samaniego ended up in federal custody. He was first arrested after being unable to pay for a taxi, because he had left his wallet behind, but was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Samaniego estimates he was held in solitary confinement for more than a month, while fighting deportation.

“I really can’t remember. It could be more,” Samaniego told And Another Thing, “It is inhumane. It really is a form of torture.”

This episode of And Another Thing was originally broadcast on October 25, 2021.