NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A New Fairfield father of two facing deportation to his native Guatemala next week is asking for more time to resolve his immigration problems — and he is getting help from powerful people.
Joel Colindrés, 33, and his U.S.-borne wife, Samantha, were joined by U.S. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty as well as his new lawyer, Erin O’Neil-Baker, in making his case at a rainy press conference Monday at the couple's home.
Colindrés entered the U.S. in 2004 without documentation. In 2010, he married his wife, Samantha, 35, who grew up in Brookfield. They have two U.S.-borne children: 6-year-old Preston and 2-year-old Lila.
But despite working for years to gain citizenship, on July 20, Colindrés was told that he would be deported as of Aug. 17.
“There’s really no justification to deport him right now,” Esty said. “It's cruel, and it doesn’t reflect the values we believe in as Americans to keep families together."
Esty said he needs more time to make two claims in his attempt to stay in the U.S. with his family. He is seeking asylum on the grounds that his life could be in danger if he were to return to Guatemala. And Esty said his marriage to an American citizen also entitles him to stay.
With perhaps just 10 days left together in the U.S., Samantha Colindrés said she is feeling a mix of emotions.
"A day like today brings some hope when you have everybody here, but when you do look at the calendar, it’s like, today’s our last full week together, you get upset," she said. "It's been really hard. ... But we’re not going to stop fighting for him, for what’s right and for him to stay here for us.”
Blumenthal said, "The thought of this family being ripped apart is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking." He is working to persuade the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to put a stay on the deportation order.
O’Neil-Baker said Colindres missed a court hearing in 2004 due to a paperwork problem, which triggered the deportation notice. That has prevented him from receiving permanent residency, she said.
O’Neil-Baker said they are seeking a waiver on that notice and are seeking more time to present his case.
The years of struggling to gain residency, which ended with the deportation order, has been devastating to
The family said they have spent many years and tens of thousands of dollars trying "to do things 'the right way'" without success.
"I don’t think you have any idea how hard it is to become part of this country," Joel Colindres said.
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