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Immigration officials deport father of U.S. children

A immigration case involving the father of two U.S. children may have caught the attention of Florida residents. It spurred a large public outcry and ended with the man's deportation to Guatemala. The resident of Guatemala previously applied for amnesty in the U.S. after facing threats to his life, which supporters say were attributed to his actions against a powerful gang in his native country. The denial came after the man fled to the U.S. in 2005. Deportation proceedings began after he was stopped by police for a minor traffic violation in December 2012, according to family.

Public reaction against the immigration proceedings included protests and petitions. Thousands of petitions protesting the planned deportation were delivered to officials, and a vigil was held by supporters near the Florence Service Processing Center in an effort to stop transfer of the man to the airport. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reportedly used decoy vans to avoid interference.

The man has two children who are U.S. citizens. According to his family, a date had already been set for him to wed the mother of his 10-month-old and 2-year-old children. Detainment prevented the marriage and his attendance at his daughter's birth. Activists also expressed concern over the man's safety; prior to immigrating in 2005, he was targeted for physical assault and threats by the gang La Mara Salvatrucha due to his youth organizing efforts.

Many activists have criticized both immigration law and enforcement as unfair. Enforcement without compassion can lead to the break-up of families or the placement of individuals into dangerous situations. For those immigrants who face denial of petition for citizenship or removal proceedings, emotions and government indifference may make the situation seem hopeless. An attorney with experience in immigration and naturalization law may be able to help individuals meet green card requirements, avoid deportation or pursue family immigration.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Father Deported Despite Efforts From Family And Immigration Reform Advocates", Griselda Nevarez, December 14, 2013

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