A 59-year-old New Jersey grandfather reported to ICE while accompanied by a Catholic Cardinal and U.S. senator.
Calls are growing for the federal government to not deport Catalino Guerrero, of Union City, New Jersey, who has deportation orders against him.
After the meeting, ICE granted Guerrero a stay until May 11.
Those who marched to the federal immigration building on March 10 alongside Guerrero included Catholic clergy, among them, the archbishop of Newark, who said he was there to “bear witness.” Guerrero, who has health problems, walked into the immigration offices with a cane, surrounded by television cameras and supporters.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Guerrero Has Lived in the United States for 25 Years & Obama’s Administration First Ordered His Deportation
According to the Facebook page Stand With Catalino, Catalino is a “25-year resident of the United States with four grandchildren and a member of Union City’s St. Augustine Parish” in New Jersey.
NJ.com reports that “the Obama administration ordered him deported, yet repeatedly granted him reprieves because he was so clearly not a threat.” The newspaper reported that Guerrero, a Mexican national, ended up on the government’s radar when he “mistakenly applied for asylum.”
A press release from the Newark Archdiocese reports, “Guerrero fled Puebla, Mexico in 1991 in pursuit of economic opportunity and an escape from a crime-ridden area. He has long sought a pathway to citizenship, but has faced one obstacle after another after his former attorney bungled the paperwork. He desperately wants an opportunity to become a citizen.”
2. Members of the Catholic Clergy, Including a Cardinal, Have Rallied Behind Guerrero
PIX11 reports that Guerrero applied for a work permit several years ago, but he didn’t fill out the form right.
The television station says those rallying behind him on March 10 include Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who is the Archbishop of Newark, and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.
According to a press release from the Archdiocese of Newark, “Clergy leaders with Faith in New Jersey, a member of PICO National Network, the largest grassroots and faith-based organizing network in the nation, will gather for a second time in support of Catalino Guerrero, an undocumented immigrant facing deportation under the new administration.”
The press release continued, “Following his check-in on February 8, ICE officials told Guerrero to report to the immigration office again on March 10 and be prepared to surrender his passport.”
The cardinal, who was expected to accompany Guerrero into the immigration meeting, said, according to the press release: “As faith leaders, we are called to recognize and underscore the humanity and dignity of every single individual as a unique person and, at the same time, resist any attempts to demonize or characterize refugees as sinister, faceless threats. We are here today to bear witness and to appeal to the conscience of our nation to spare this man, and countless others like him, whose only offense was to seek a better life for his family.”
3. Guerrero Has No Criminal Record & Paid Taxes for Decades in the U.S., a U.S. Senator Says
Sen. Menendez says that Guerrero has no criminal record and has paid taxes in the U.S. for years.
ICE officials have repeatedly said they are focusing on undocumented immigrants with criminal records as they conduct arrests throughout the country following Donald Trump’s renewed emphasis on illegal immigration.
4. Guerrero Was Ordered to Appear for an ICE Check In
“Mr. Guerrero was recently ordered to report for a check-in at the Newark Field Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 10, at 10 am, to determine if he should be removed from the United States,” the Stand With Catalino page says.
“If Mr. Guerrero is deported it would be absurd and immoral as he is far from being a threat either to the community or to national security. Mr. Guerrero does not have a criminal record and was granted a stay of removal in 2013 and 2014 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
According to New Jersey.com, New Jersey has more than 500,000 undocumented immigrants, the third largest in the country. The Archdiocese press release says that, at the previous meeting, “ICE refused to accept Guerrero’s prosecutorial discretion application for a stay.”
5. Guerrero Has Health Problems & Owns His Own Homes
According to The New Jersey Star Ledger, Guerrero is a “stroke victim with a weak heart and Type 2 diabetes.”
He’s also owned his own home for 13 years, reported the newspaper, which added, “We recently tracked him to the house he’s owned for 13 years, where he was surrounded by little girls and a black-and-white kitten.”