Update: The U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit granted a stay of deportation order Thursday afternoon allowing Joel Colindres to remain in the U.S. Click here to read the updated story from Daily Voice.
NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A New Fairfield dad is running out of time as he fights an order to be deported Thursday to his native Guatemala.
"We lost the fight ... for now," his wife, Samantha Colindrés, said in a Facebook post late Wednesday.
An emergency stay for her husband, Joel Colindres, was denied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she said.
"We have exhausted all legal routes in this battle and Joel must deport the country [Thursday]," she said. "For once I'm at a loss for words. Devastated, broken, angry .... don't even begin to touch the tip of what we are feeling."
The couple, who have been married since 2010 were spending Wednesday evening as a last night together with their two U.S.-borne children, 6-year-old Preston and 2-year-old Lila.
Joel Colindrés, 33, entered the U.S. in 2004 without documentation. In 2010, he married, Samantha, 35, who grew up in Brookfield.
Joel Colindrés will not be seeking sanctuary in a church, a route taken by undocumented mother from Norwalk who was able to get a stay of her deportation that way.
His wife said that move could drastically impair his path to citizenship in the future. He is still seeking asylum because he fears for his life when he returns to Guatemala or getting his order of removal from 2004 reopened.
"So not all is lost. But at the bare minimum he will be away for eight months if not more," she said. "Disobeying this order could make him a criminal fugitive and hurt all the efforts we have put forth."
His lawyer, Erin O'Neil-Baker, said Colindres missed a court hearing in 2004 due to a paperwork problem, which triggered the deportation notice. That has prevented him from receiving permanent residency, she said.
That caused his problems to snowball even after he married a U.S. citizen. The family said they have spent tens of thousands of dollars for legal help over years of working for legal status for Joel Colindres.
After years of checking in regularly with immigration officials, on July 20, Colindrés was told to buy a plane ticket to Guatemala for Aug. 17.
“There’s really no justification to deport him right now,” U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty said last week as lawmakers gathered in his support. “It's cruel, and it doesn’t reflect the values we believe in as Americans to keep families together."
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is working with Esty and others to put a stay on the deportation order.
"The thought of this family being ripped apart is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking," Blumenthal said.
Click here for a GoFundMe to support the family.
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