Update: Javier Gallegos Rosales, the young immigrant whose story we posted earlier today, has been granted a continuance in his deportation case. His lawyer, Hans Meyer, tells us that Gallegos Rosales is due back in court in October -- and Meyer says they'll use the extra time to strengthen their case. They're asking the federal government to exercise prosecutorial discretion and drop the deportation case against Gallegos Rosales based on what Meyer describes as changed circumstances in the 26-year-old's life.
Meyer says he can't discuss the details of those circumstances at this time. But he says he hopes that the additional information will help the feds make what he sees as the right decision.
Read our original post below.
Original post: Last summer, we told you about a growing trend of undocumented immigrants going public to stop their deportations. That trend continues -- and yesterday, as a frigid wind blew icy snowflakes into people's hair and jackets, a group gathered in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Denver to protest the deportation of 26-year-old Javier Gallegos Rosales, who came to the United States at age nine.
Today at 8 a.m., an immigration judge will decide whether to deport Gallegos Rosales to Mexico.
"I really want to stay here and go back to school to become a graphic designer," Gallegos Rosales told the sign-bearing crowd yesterday. "There's no other place that's home."
Gallegos Rosales's entire family is here, he says, and he's spent the majority of his life in the U.S. He graduated from Denver's Manual High School in 2005 and has worked at a bakery for the past seven years, performing every job in the shop. His dream is to save up enough money to go to college. He's active in his church, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Aurora, and with Denver's Centro San Juan Diego ministry.
"I'm not a bad person," he says. "All I do is work, church, youth group and family."
In March 2011, Gallegos Rosales was arrested on a charge of habitually driving without a license; he'd previously gotten several tickets for driving without a license, according to the law firm representing him. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement learned of Gallegos Rosales's undocumented status and placed him in deportation proceedings.
His case was still pending when, in the summer of 2012, the feds announced a new program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The program allows young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children to apply for temporary legal status. There are a few requirements, however, including that the immigrant must currently be a student or have graduated from high school and must have a clean criminal record. Felonies or "significant misdemeanors" render a person ineligible.
At first, Gallegos Rosales's lawyer thought he'd qualify. He fit the spirit of the program perfectly, says paralegal Julie Gonzales: He was a young, clean-living undocumented immigrant whose greatest wish was to go to college. But because Gallegos Rosales pleaded guilty to habitually driving without a license -- a first-degree misdemeanor -- he didn't qualify for DACA, Gonzales says. "He's one of those young people who should be able to do that instead of fighting against his deportation case," she adds.
Gallegos Rosales says he knows that his situation saddens his family. "Even though they don't show it, I know they hurt inside," he says. "They don't want me to go."
At the end of yesterday's rally, Pastor Vern Rempel of the First Mennonite Church of Denver and the immigrant advocacy group Together Colorado asked everyone in attendance to circle around Gallegos Rosales, who wore just a sweatshirt in the snow. "We are ready to walk with him so he does not need to walk alone," Rempel said before leading the group in a rendition of "We Shall Overcome."
Gallegos Rosales says the gathering made him feel supported. "Some people I don't even know," he says of those who attended, "and they are here to support me."
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More from our Immigration archive: "Jeanette Vizguerra, undocumented mother and advocate, given six-month stay of deportation."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org