mostlycloudy
Sunday November 19th, 2017 3:51AM
9:48PM ( 1 day ago ) Weather Alert

Detained university janitor, in US 11 years, awaits his fate

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BOSTON (AP) — Francisco Rodriguez-Guardado's first son was born just days after he was taken into custody by federal immigration officials for deportation back to his native El Salvador. He has yet to meet his son but is told there's a resemblance.

"They tell me he has my eyes," the 43-year-old said with a mix of wistfulness and pride this month in an interview at the Suffolk County House of Corrections.

Rodriguez-Guardado, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology janitor whose case became a rallying cry for local opponents of President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown this summer, awaits his fate in the Boston jail.

His supporters say his case and others like it highlight how the Republican administration's crackdown on illegal immigration has swept up not just hardened criminals — the "bad hombres" Trump frequently railed against on the campaign trail — but also otherwise law abiding, contributing members of American society.

Arrests of immigrants in the country illegally have increased about 37 percent, from about 55,000 during the first six months of last year to 75,000 in the first half of this year, according to data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Of those, non-criminal immigrants made up nearly 20,000 of all arrests, a 145 percent increase from the first half of last year.

Among the emblematic cases is that of Roberto Beristain , a restaurant owner in Granger, Indiana, who was deported to Mexico in April after reporting to the local ICE office as requested. He was separated from his wife and children, all U.S. citizens, after living in the country for 20 years.

And in Oakland, California, last month, Eusebio and Maria Sanchez were forced to return to their native Mexico after immigration officials denied their request to remain in the U.S. They took back with them their 12-year-old American-born son but left three older American-born daughters to care for themselves in the family home.

Like those examples, Rodriguez-Guardado did not have a criminal record and was a known commodity, volunteering at his church and his children's school and even running his own carpet cleaning business, argue his supporters, who include his labor union, the faculty at MIT and prominent politicians such as U.S. Sens Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, both Massachusetts Democrats.

"There was simply no need for detention," said Adriana Lafaille, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed legal briefs in support of Rodriguez-Guardado. "This is someone who complied with everything the federal government asked him to do."

But Jessica Vaughan, a director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for more restrictive immigration policies, countered that Rodriguez-Guardado shouldn't be allowed to remain in the country because he had been granted "multiple opportunities" to resolve his legal status over the years.

"I am sure this is hard on his family, but this situation is a result of his choice to come to the United States illegally," Vaughan said. "It is not fair to the millions of people who qualify for legal immigration who pay their fees and wait in line."

Rodriguez-Guardado entered the U.S. illegally in 2006, was denied asylum in 2009 and had a subsequent appeal rejected in 2011. In June, ICE officials declined to renew the temporary authorizations that allowed him to remain in the country and ordered him to make travel arrangements back to El Salvador.

Rodriguez-Guardado was arrested July 13 because the plane ticket he booked wasn't "timely," ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said. Rodriguez-Guardado's lawyer Matthew Cameron maintains the agency never specified a deadline, so his client booked the flight for after his son's expected birth date.

Cameron is asking the federal Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen Rodriguez-Guardado's asylum case. He has sued ICE in federal court, accusing the agency of unlawful arrest and seeking his client's release, at least until the asylum question is resolved.

Rodriguez-Guardado said it's unclear how much longer he'll be in jail.

"I feel like I've been here a year," he said as he sat in a family meeting room in his white jail-issued jumpsuit. "I'm not angry, but sometimes it gets frustrating. You don't know what's going on. You don't know when you'll get out."

Rodriguez-Guardado said his Christian faith has prepared him to accept what comes next. He has joined an inmate prayer group and passes time by reading the Bible. His pastor has visited, stressing how God has a plan for everyone, even if it's not always obvious.

"We follow what God wants for us," Rodriguez-Guardado said. "If they want to move us from here, it's because there is something better for us someplace else."

If he's not allowed to stay, Rodriguez-Guardado said, he has weighed moving to Canada or Costa Rica. He is unconvinced El Salvador, where he had been a technician at an engineering firm and owned a car wash in the capital, San Salvador, is any better off than when he fled following the killing of a work colleague at the hands of a gang member.

"Believe me," he said, "if El Salvador was a safe and peaceful country, I would have never thought of coming here."

___

Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/philip%20marcelo

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Detained university janitor, in US 11 years, awaits his fate
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology janitor who became a rallying cry for local opponents of President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown is fighting his deportation while jailed
12:14AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Fifth man's charges of abuse lead Seattle mayor to resign
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, beset over the past five months by sex abuse allegations, is set to resign, bringing an ignoble end to a lengthy political career in which he championed gay rights and better pay for workers
12:08AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Europe leaders answer anger over Irma response in Caribbean
France's president is promising to rebuild stronger Caribbean territories amid anger over his response to Hurricane Irma. In a news conference Tuesday, he promised to evacuate those who want to leave and provide services and shelter to those who stay.
11:55PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Odd ball: Indians chase win streak record that includes tie
Cleveland Indians chasing historic win streak record that contains a peculiar flaw: It includes a tie
11:36PM ( 54 minutes ago )
FEMA estimates 25 percent of Florida Keys homes are gone
Federal emergency officials are estimating 25 percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed by Hurricane Irma
11:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
Roaring 20: Indians tie AL record with 20th straight win
Indians equal AL record with 20th straight win, matching 2002 "Moneyball" Athletics
11:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Fifth man's charges of abuse lead Seattle mayor to resign
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, beset over the past five months by sex abuse allegations, is set to resign, bringing an ignoble end to a lengthy political career in which he championed gay rights and better pay for workers
12:08AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Europe leaders answer anger over Irma response in Caribbean
France's president is promising to rebuild stronger Caribbean territories amid anger over his response to Hurricane Irma. In a news conference Tuesday, he promised to evacuate those who want to leave and provide services and shelter to those who stay.
11:55PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Stars turn out to push for donations for hurricane relief
Beyonce, Streisand, Wonder and Bieber among the stars who raise money for hurricane victims during 'Hand in Hand' telethon
11:55PM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Indonesia sends 34 tons of aid for Rohingya
The Latest: Four Hercules planes carrying 34 tons of aid for Rohinyga refugees have departed for Bangladesh from an air force base in the Indonesian capital.
11:43PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Odd ball: Indians chase win streak record that includes tie
Cleveland Indians chasing historic win streak record that contains a peculiar flaw: It includes a tie
11:36PM ( 54 minutes ago )