Jose Luis Vazquez Campos doesn't have much time. An undocumented immigrant, Campos must prove to federal immigration authorities that he's in Mexico on July 18, which means he'll have to board a bus in Denver on Sunday to get there. Yesterday, the American Friends Service Committee held a rally to ask Immigration and Customs Enforcement to use its discretion to stop Campos's deportation. He's not a criminal, they say; he's a hard-working husband and father of two young boys.
Campos's wife, Rocio Rodriguez Carillo, pleaded directly with ICE officials. "I want you to think about my two kids when you're making this decision," she said through tears. The couple's two sons are four and six years old. Their seven-year-old cousin also attended yesterday's rally on the steps of the State Capitol building.
Campos came to the attention of ICE after he was stopped by the police four times in a month in 2009. The first time, Campos says he was on his way to his job at a restaurant at 2 a.m. when a cop pulled him over because his tire brushed against the white center line. Campos, who does not have a license, was given a ticket. The second time, he was stopped for allegedly going 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. The third time, the same cop who'd stopped him for speeding stopped him again. Campos suspects he was targeted because the officer knew he didn't have a license. The fourth time, Campos had a headlight out.
Local law enforcement likely reported the traffic tickets to ICE, which began deportation proceedings against Campos. He hired a lawyer, who eventually agreed to a voluntary departure, which means Campos will have to return to Mexico for now but is eligible to apply to re-enter the country legally. Jennifer Piper of the American Friends Service Committee says that even though Campos agreed to leave the U.S., ICE can still use its discretion to allow him to stay by closing or deferring action in his case.
Immigration advocacy groups such as AFSC and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition are working to publicize stories such as Campos's and that of Ana Vasquez, an undocumented immigrant in Carbondale who was placed in deportation proceedings after a wrongful arrest in a domestic violence episode. Both Campos and Vasquez were likely reported to ICE under a 2006 Colorado law known as Senate Bill 90, which requires local law enforcement to report suspected undocumented immigrants. And in January 2011, Colorado implemented Secure Communities, a federal program that checks fingerprints of people booked into local jails against a national database of undocumented immigrants.
"If there was no SB 90, if there was no Secure Communities, (Campos) would have just paid his fine and not been deported," Piper says of Campos's traffic tickets.
Page down to learn more about Campos's case, and to see photos from the event staged on his behalf. Campos is a low-priority undocumented immigrant, Piper says. He works several jobs -- including cutting grass and selling fruit at a stand -- and has never been arrested for a criminal charge. He pays his taxes and is active in his church. He doesn't want to leave his family, especially his two citizen children, and he's afraid of the the violence in Mexico.
"I'm a hard worker and an honest person," he said at yesterday's rally.
Advocates hope to hear soon whether Campos's deportation will be stopped.
After all, time is running out.
See more photos from the rally below.
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