A lesbian woman from Mexico who was facing deportation after a 2008 traffic stop revealed that she was an undocumented immigrant has been granted a reprieve, advocates report. A Denver immigration judge has delayed a ruling in Sujey Pando's case for five months in light of a new deportation review to be conducted by the Department of Homeland Security.
Last Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the feds will conduct a case-by-case review of approximately 300,000 cases in which undocumented immigrants face deportation. The ultimate goal, she said, is to focus on deporting serious criminals -- and not law-abiding, contributing members of society.
The announcement came on the heels of a similar directive issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton in June. Morton urged prosecutorial discretion in certain cases, such as those of young immigrants hoping to go to college or enlist in the military and those of immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens.
Pando, identified in our previous post by the pseudonym Mrs. Hernandez (she's now given permission to use her real name), appeared before a Denver immigration judge last Friday, one day after Napolitano's announcement. The judge was supposed to issue a final ruling on whether she would be deported, but given that she has no criminal record and is in a long-term relationship with her partner, whom she married in Iowa in 2010, the judge delayed the decision.
"In Sujey's case, she is married to a U.S. citizen, she doesn't have a criminal record, she has longstanding ties here in the U.S. and she has family here," says Julie Gonzales of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "I think it's going to be a good test case moving forward to see how this new policy works out."
In the meantime, Gonzales reports that Pando is continuing to live her life here. "She said, 'I'm not trying to think about how things would work if I get deported; I'm just trying to live my life,'" Gonzales says.
"Cross your fingers," she adds. "That's what we're hoping for."
More from our Immigration archives: "Immigrant activist groups protest Wells Fargo and its investment in private prisons (PHOTOS)."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.