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Student activist seeks voluntary departure instead of deportation

September 5, 2018

A lawyer for DACA recipient and activist Sergio “Mapache” Salazar, whose immigration benefits were not renewed, told a judge Wednesday that his client will seek voluntary departure to Mexico instead of being deported.

During a hearing in San Antonio, Salazar’s lead attorney Javier Maldonado told Immigration Judge Justin Adams that Salazar admits he was out of immigration status, but that he would seek to introduce evidence supporting Salazar’s intent to leave on his own.

“Being detained is very difficult for an 18/19-year-old,” Maldonado said after the hearing. By seeking voluntary departure, “he would be back in Mexico soon.”

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Voluntary departure can protect Salazar, 18, from the harsh consequences of an order of removal or deportation, which could bar him from returning to the U.S. for several years — even permanently, according to Maldonado. Voluntary departure, among other benefits, buys a person more time to take care of affairs before leaving and does not automatically bar a person from the United States for a set number of years.

Angel Olivera, a prosecuting immigration attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, opposed the request, citing a 21-page motion the government filed that contains allegations that Salazar posted threats against law enforcement on social media.

“The respondent has engaged in conduct that is undesirable,” Olivera said. “He has incited violence.”

Salazar was born in Mexico and has lived in the United States since his parents brought him here when he was 2. He had been living legally in the United States as a recipient of temporary legal immigration status under the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. He is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and aspires to make films, according to the advocacy organization Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES.

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RAICES had filed for a renewal of his DACA status, but it was denied. Salazar was arrested on Aug. 3 and has been jailed in Laredo as the feds seek to deport him. Salazar’s arrest came as he left a camp outside an ICE office on the North Side, where he and others had been protesting ICE and the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigrants that included the now-abandoned practice of separating undocumented parents from their children at the border.

RAICES and supporters have painted Salzar as coming under attack because he called for the elimination of ICE, but ICE says he was arrested for violating immigration law.

Olivera cited screen grabs from what officials contend was Salazar’s Twitter account, @babycrusty61, as part of evidence to show why Salazar should not be here. That Twitter account had been private, and has since been taken down.

Adams scheduled a hearing for Sept. 14 to hear evidence and testimony in the matter.

Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | gcontreras@express-news.net | Twitter: @gmaninfedland

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