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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    N.C. DACA student gets relief, deportation meeting canceled

    DACA student gets relief, deportation meeting canceled

    Beth Walton ,
    Published 12:46 p.m. ET April 18, 2017 | Updated 27 minutes ago

    Undocumented immigrants in the DACA program face uncertainty under President Trump.Wochit

    Sthefany Flores Fuentes, of Forest City, had planned to drive to Charlotte Wednesday morning for an immigration meeting that could lead to her deportation to Honduras.

    CHARLOTTE - The DACA student facing the threat of deportation returned to university Tuesday relieved that all she had to do was study for exams.

    Sthefany Flores Fuentes, of Forest City, had planned to drive to Charlotte Wednesday morning for an immigration meeting that could lead to her deportation to Honduras.

    A DACA recipient, Flores Fuentes, 20, received a formal letter from the U.S Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement April 1, saying arrangements had been made to send her back to a country she hasn't been to since she was 7 years old.

    On Monday evening, after a day of appointments with her lawyer in Charlotte, media interviews with the Hispanic press and working with activists to draw attention to her case, she was told Immigration and Customs Enforcement was canceling the meeting.

    ICE officials claimed there had been some sort of error, Flores Fuentes said Monday night. Signals had gotten crossed between the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services which handles DACA renewals and ICE, which is under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, she said.

    Status as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, allows certain people who came to the U.S as children and are here illegally to stay for up two years at a time subject to renewal.
    Participants are given work permits and many seek employment to pay for higher education. President Donald Trump has given conflicting indications on whether he might extend the program, creating uncertainty for the tens of thousands of people brought to the United States as children.

    This is the only country many of them have ever called home.

    "We are truly happy that the system prevailed," said Byron Martinez, director of operations for Unidos We Stand, an immigrant advocacy group based in Gastonia that advocated on Flores Fuentes' behalf.

    "This is a person that has strived to do her best given the conditions of her status in the US. She is very bright. And has achieved so much and she serves as an example of true American ideals."

    Flores Fuentes is an honors student at Gardner-Webb University, a private Christian college in Boiling Springs, a little more than an hour southeast of Asheville. The university junior is reeking a major in journalism and two minors, one in political science and another in theater.

    She spent most of her childhood in Forest City where she attended public school from elementary through high school graduation.

    Flores Fuentes said she was first given DACA status in 2013 when she was a student at East Rutherford High School. She has since renewed her application three times, most recently in March. She has a work permit valid through 2019 and no criminal record.

    "It was unfortunate that she had to go through this experience. But we are happy that the deportation officer made a decision based on the facts and the basis of her character," Martinez said.

    "We are very proud of her. And are content that ICE used prosecutorial discretion in her favor. She is the best example of what a DACA student looks like."

    Bryan Cox, southern region communications director for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed Monday morning that Flores Fuentes' order to report was canceled after ICE received additional information.

    Cox would not provide details explaining what happened.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not discuss people who are not in its custody without their consent, he said. "All I can say is generally this individual was never facing deportation due to a 'clerical error.'"

    Trump in January signed two executive orders expanding the pool of immigrants here illegally who can be prioritized for deportation and empowering state and local law enforcement agencies to perform the functions of immigration agents.

    They call for the hiring of 10,000 more immigration officers and 5,000 more border patrol agents and direct federal funding to construct a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border and build more detention facilities there.

    "This is a foreign national in violation of federal immigration law, who had their day in court and was ordered removed from the United States by a federal immigration judge -- and yet this agency has exercised discretion on their behalf," Cox said.

    "In exercising that discretion, aliens released from custody are subject to periodic reporting to an ICE field office. That was done in this instance for a specific, clearly defined reason; the purpose of which has now been resolved."

    Nationally, deportation rates are trending similar to where they were during the first three months of last year. Between January and March 2016 some 55,400 immigrants were removed by ICE from the United States. This year that number is just over 54,740.

    Flores Fuentes found the letter from immigration officials asking for her voluntary surrender in her mailbox after returning from a university Model United Nations trip.

    She was told to arrive at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the federal immigration office in Charlotte with no more than 40 pounds of luggage.

    Her date of deportation was "to be determined," but Flores Fuentes should be "completely ready for removal," it says. She will officially surrender herself in Atlanta where a plane will take her back home, according to the correspondence dated March 23.

    "A review of your file indicates there is no administrative relief which may be extended to you, and it is now incumbent upon this agency to enforce your departure from the United States," it says.

    Flores Fuentes was ordered removed by an immigration judge in April 29, 2005, according to the U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review. She was 8 years old at the time.

    Orders for removal are issued by immigration judges who either decide someone has not presented enough evidence to stay in the country legally or a defendant missed a hearing and their removal was ordered in absentia.

    Flores Fuentes said her mother told her she was never notified of a hearing. She is the only one in her family to receive a letter from ICE calling for a voluntary surrender.

    "ICE still has the right to deport me, which is a really scary prospect," Flores Fuentes has said. "This is a very big deal."


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