Return to Returner: Man Wrongly Deported Back Home

A Miami man spent three months in El Salvador after wrongfully being deported

Jose Rodriguez-Portillo was a happily married man living in Miami with his wife, but that all changed after he was deported three months ago.

Rodriguez-Portillo, who is a native of El Salvador, was sent back to his home country by U.S. Immigration because of initial reports that he was in the states illegally.

On Tuesday, the government essentially said my bad, without admitting total responsibility. Rodriguez-Portillo was reunited with his wife, Ivette, at Miami International Airport, finally back in the place that he calls home.

The deportation drama occurred after immigration officials neglected to realize that he had been married for the past 11 years to a U.S. citizen, his attorney says. That granted Rodriguez-Portillo temporary protected status in the U.S. Despite pleas from the family, the government deported him back to a country Rodriguez-Portillo had not lived in for 20 years.

"Being alone without her after 11 years, it was like a nightmare," Rodriguez-Portillo said.

Ironically, the couple tipped immigration off to Rodriguez-Portillo's residency issue by trying to get him a green card, which would have granted him permanent U.S. citizenry.

But the couple is not quite out of the immigration woods because the feds aren't quite ready to admit a mistake or defeat.

Rodriguez-Portillo is part of an ongoing lawsuit that could land him back in El Salvador, where he languished the past few months with no job, money and no wife.

But for now, he is once again, home, sweet home.

"Hopefully he gets all his rights and he'll be able to stay," Ivette said. "Hopefully, we'll never have to go through this again."

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