Leaders push to stay student's deportation

August 24, 2009 3:18:44 PM PDT
A Chicago college student is about to be deported to Mexico, a country he hasn't seen since he was a young child.Some local leaders are making a big push to stay Rigoberto Padilla's deportation and they are getting a lot of support from the community.

The pace of detention and deportation has accelerated over the past few years. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has stated that during the past fiscal year, immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) deported 357,000 immigrants, which is a 50-percent jump from three years before. Many have U.S citizen spouses or children.

Padilla, 21, is an undocumented Chicago resident who came to this country with his parents from Mexico when he was six years old.

Last January Rigoberto Padilla was arrested for a misdemeanor traffic violation five minutes from his home and taken to Cook County Jail where his public defender reported him to immigration authorities. Padilla is now facing deportation on December 16.

"I did make that one mistake. It was a misdemeanor. I blew a stop sign. I don't want that to determine the rest of my life. I don't want to have my career stopped and not become an attorney," said Padilla.

Padilla, graduated from high school with a 3.5 GPA and attended Harold Washington College. He is now enrolled in the University of Illinois in Chicago where he is carrying a full load and works full time. His goal is to be an attorney.

Padilla's supporters are requesting that ICE close his deportation case.

"Stop senseless deportation and enforcement while we wait for immigration reform," said Joshua Hoyt, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

"What is the point? How is this helpful in any way to destroy families, destroy lives and rob ourselves of the talent of the taxes of the work, of the education that these individuals stand to gain?" said U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D) North Suburbs & Chicago.

Gail Montenegro of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said: "Rigoberto Padilla is in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and has been fully afforded due process through the immigration courts. He is represented by legal counsel and had the opportunity to present the facts of his case before an impartial immigration judge who ruled on the case."

"He is now going to pay for the sins of his parents, really, and we cannot be making special exceptions for him," said Rosanna Pulido, Minutemen Project.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights marched to the Department of Homeland Security to deliver 9,000 petitions requesting the end to deportations and asking for a meeting with the director to discuss Padilla's plight.

"He has refused to meet, refused to discuss this case. They don't wand to allow us into the building, the building our taxes paid for," said Hoyt.

Padilla has been ordered to voluntarily leave the country before or on December 16. He has not been back to Mexico since he was six years old and does not know what he will do there without his family.


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