Deportation ruling will let student graduate
Apr. 04, 2014
SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado high school student who was locked up by immigration authorities is back in class in time to graduate after his attorney won a delay in his deportation proceedings.
Jaime Leon Rivas walked out of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lockup in Aurora on Wednesday and returned to Snowy Peaks High School after protesters launched a campaign outside the detention center holding signs that read "Let Jaime Graduate" and "Free Jaime."
Principal Brett Tomlinson said Friday he hugged Leon Rivas when he returned to school and welcomed him back.
"It's fantastic. He's excited to be back in class. It shows how much everyone believes in him," Tomlinson said. Leon Rivas, who is 19, is expected to graduate with the rest of his class on May 22, Tomlinson said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have detained Leon Rivas since March 4, when he was handcuffed at a scheduled supervision meeting in Glenwood Springs. But immigration attorney Alex McShiras said Wednesday a stay of a federal-removal order was issued that gives Leon Rivas another year of freedom in the United States, which is enough time for the Snowy Peaks High School senior to graduate and make a case that he should be given asylum.
Leon Rivas, who turned 19 on March 25, immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old. He said he and his brother, who was then 15, were fleeing gang violence in their home country of El Salvador when they illegally crossed the Rio Grande into Texas back in 2005. Leon Rivas and his brother, Carlos, were quickly detained by ICE officials and persuaded to sign voluntary departure forms.
Instead of returning to El Salvador, the brothers drove to Colorado with an aunt and reconnected with family members.
During his first several years in Summit County, Jaime Leon Rivas struggled. He was a bad student who didn't get along with his peers or teachers, the Summit Daily reported Friday (http://tinyurl.com/l4f5mz7 ). Leon Rivas worked hard and became a model student, Tomlinson said.
McShiras, an immigration attorney with the Denver-based Chan Law Firm, said he's never seen such an outpouring of support for one of his clients. He said that between March 10, when he took the case, and March 21, when he filed a motion requesting a stay of removal, he received more than 98 pages of testimony telling authorities Leon Rivas had changed his life for the better.
Leon Rivas was in school on Friday, and his attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.
McShiras said his client's struggle to stay in the United States isn't over.
Leon Rivas must continue to check in with ICE officials, and McShiras has to get federal authorities to reopen his client's case in order to overturn a deportation order from 2007 and then seek asylum.
Leon Rivas has said he is fearful of returning to his home country because of the continuing turmoil there.
Information from: Summit Daily News, http://www.summitdaily.com/