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12-19-2006, 02:07 PM #1
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- Joliet, Il
Judge to decide local immigrants fateJudge to decide local immigrant's fate
December 19, 2006
By ANDREA HEIN STAFF WRITER
A Rockdale man may be celebrating his last Christmas in the United States.
On Wednesday an immigration judge could order Toribio Barrera out of the country or allow him to stay.
» Click to enlarge image
Toribio Barrera of Rockdale goes to court Wednesday to find out if he can remain in the country.
(MICHAEL R. SCHMIDT/ STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
"Right now, I'm nervous," said Barrera, as the clock ticks down to his immigration hearing.
Barrera, 34, is one of the millions of illegal aliens at the center of the immigration debate.
Immigrant advocacy groups argue that Congress needs to overhaul immigration laws to allow a direct citizenship path for undocumented residents. Other people, however, say illegal means illegal and people who enter the country without approval should be deported.
Thirteen years ago, Barrera slipped across the border with Mexico in hopes of becoming an aerospace engineer and joining the Navy. Then Barrera learned he couldn't serve in the armed forces as an illegal alien.
But he stayed, learned English and made a living.
He married a U.S. citizen and started the residency process that allowed him to land a job and to serve as a volunteer firefighter in Rockdale.
The marriage, however, dissolved, and, as a result, so did Barrera's shot at citizenship.
Fed up that no direct path exists for him to become a citizen, Barrera said he voluntarily put his case before the courts. At the time, he did not realize that a judge has to follow current laws, including those excluding him from residency.
"He kind of forced the issue, unfortunately," said Chris Bergin, an attorney with an immigrant rights group, who is representing Barrera.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, did not have details of Barrera's case readily available Monday but provided the charges against him.
The government's case is based on Barrera's illegal entry into the United States.
Often an illegal immigrant first has to leave the country and wait at least 10 years before applying to work or live within the United States.
But Barrera is covered by a now-expired law that allows illegal aliens who filed valid immigration petitions prior to 2001 to stay in the United States while the government reviews subsequent requests, Bergin said.
To remain in the country, Barrera, along with supporters, searched for a company to file a labor petition stating it needed Barrera as an employee.
The first company that agreed to help Barrera later backed out, Barrera said.
Now Hector Perez, president of Rocket Productions, a Chicago-based production company, is helping Barrera, who has photography experience and other related skills.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Perez met Barrera while Rocket Productions was documenting immigrant marches.
"All they're looking for is a better way of life," Perez said of illegal immigrants like Barrera.
View Andrea Hein's Web log at http://blogs.suburbanchicagonews.com/ahein/or contact her at (815) 729-6018 or firstname.lastname@example.org /a> /a>
http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/hera ... S1.article
12-19-2006, 02:45 PM #2Fed up that no direct path exists for him to become a citizen, Barrera said he voluntarily put his case before the courts. At the time, he did not realize that a judge has to follow current laws, including those excluding him from residency."The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**
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12-19-2006, 03:24 PM #3"All they're looking for is a better way of life," Perez said of illegal immigrants like Barrera."Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results is the definition of insanity. " Albert Einstein.