Advocates, family and friends rallied in East Boston on Monday to block the deportation of an immigrant from El Salvador, 30-year-old Marco Flores, who was recently released from prison after serving more than a decade for killing the man who sexually abused him as a child.
The group is hoping to raise awareness to help Flores, who admitted to killing his abuser the age of 17. Flores is in detention awaiting deportation, and supporters are hoping to persuade immigration authorities to reconsider their decision.
“He’s already been through a lot of trauma. The only thing that he knows it this country, and it would be really cruel to send him back,” said At-Large City Councilor Julia Mejia, who attended the rally in East Boston that had at least 40 people.
Flores was released from state's Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster at the end of December, two years early, due to good behavior in prison. The same day he was released, he was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He is now being held at Strafford County Jail in New Hampshire before a deportation hearing later this week.
Under federal law, people convicted of convicting crimes, especially those that are violent, are prioritized for deportation.
Flores came to Boston when he was six years old from El Salvador to live with his mother, and was eight when his family began leaving him with babysitter Galdamez, who he said began to abuse him soon after.
His mother Clelian Diaz told GBH News on Monday that no one knew what was going on.
“He was young. Just a child. It affected him. In his classes ... in everything," she said.
The abuse continued into adolescence, according to district attorney records.
“You would never tell if you just saw him or if you just spoke to him. It's something he kind of hid very well,” said Karina Flores, his niece. “I think that's part of the reason why he ended up doing what he did is because he felt he had no one to speak to. He had no one to trust with what was happening to him.”
Flores said he had found a photo of his nephew in Galdamez’s home and worried he would abuse him, too. He told homicide detectives that he used a dog chain to strangle Galdamez as punishment and to prevent him from molesting anyone else, according to a press release from the Suffolk District Attorney’s office at the time.
Schuyler Pisha, one of Flores’ attorneys, says his client regrets the killing.
“I look at it in terms of a kid who is very traumatized and confused and scared who doesn’t think anyone will listen to him,” he said. “I don’t think — or Marco believes — that anything’s justified, or that’s something that should have been done.”
Before burning down Galdamez’s home, Flores removed his computers, which investigators later found child pornography on, with references to Flores. In a video taken by Flores, Galdamez admitted the abuse before he was strangled.
Flores pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court in 2013 to voluntary manslaughter and arson, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 years of probation.
Karina Flores says her uncle fears retaliation from Galdamez’s family in El Salvador. His mother broke down several times during an interview.
“He came here when he was young, he doesn’t know anything about El Salvador,” Diaz said. “He’s very afraid, but he’s trying to stay positive and trust in God that he will get to stay here.”
Flores has a remote hearing date on Thursday in immigration court. John Mohan, an ICE spokesperson, said the agency has no comment on the case.
Mohan also said that ICE doesn’t disclose pending or expected days of deportation for security reasons. It is unclear how soon after his hearing a potential deportation could happen.