The previous Monday, the sisters had stood in front of the LDS Temple in downtown Salt Lake City, desperate to stave off a June 15 deportation order.
Brought over as children from Mexico City in 1993, they had overstayed
their tourist visas. They blamed an unscrupulous attorney, or possibly a notario [a Hispanic version of a notary],
for taking money to fix their parents’ immigration status but then doing
nothing about it.
Despite President Obama’s 2011 memos requesting that low-priority offenders be taken off the pick-up lists by ICE’s fugitive ops team, first the sisters’ parents were arrested and deported earlier this year, and then were told to prepare to leave the country, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, without a court hearing. None of them have criminal histories, beyond their lack of papers.
Quite why ICE decided to grant them a year-long reprieve isn’t clear.
“They got lucky, I guess,” says immigration attorney Aaron
Tarin. “Most people don’t take the initiative to stand in front of the temple to tell their
Immigrant-advocate Tony Yapias says the Avelar case is one of a number of such cases across the country, where families and small Dream Teams [pro-immigrant advocate groups] “are standing up to immigration authorities in the public eye.”
Silvia Avelar says families in the situation her sisters found themselves in –- facing deportation for being undocumented residents -- “should keep fighting their case. You have to do whatever you need to in order to have a fair trial,” she says.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake City immigration judge Dustin Pead was selected for a federal-magistrate position several weeks ago, raising the possibility of an increased backlog of cases weighing down on Judge William Nixon, the soon-to-be sole remaining immigration judge.