Charlotte Immigrant's Deportation Case Closed For Now
Deportation proceedings against a 22-year-old Charlotte man have been dropped. He can stay in the U.S. for now, but he can't work and the threat of being sent back to Mexico remains. Erick Velazquillo (left) and his lawyer Janeen Hicks Pierre at immigration rally. When Charlotte's immigration court began deportation proceedings against Erick Velazquillo, he did something most other people in his position don't. He called in activists to drum up publicity for his case. And that's what his lawyer Janeen Hicks Pierre thinks did the trick. "I honestly believe the press and the media have helped Erick tremendously in the support he's gotten. I think that's the sole reason they've decided to admin close at this point," says Hicks Pierre. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has what's called "administratively closed" his case. That means deportation proceedings are halted for now, but the case could be opened at any time. That puts Velazquillo back where he was before he was arrested in October for driving without a valid license. Jail officials were the ones who then notified immigration officials that he was here illegally. He's been in this country since he was two and attends CPCC. "I can't really work right now because I'm in the same situation where I don't have status. So that's what we're trying to really do now is to push for deferred action, you know, so I can be granted that and I'll be able to work," says Velazquillo. ICE regularly grants what's called "deferred action" which allows people to temporarily stay and work legally in the U.S. But his lawyer Hicks Pierre says this is not the typical case that qualifies. "Normally ICE will grant that in cases where there's a sick child or some grand humanitarian reason. This issue is more of a political one, so it hasn't been a clear-cut case for them," says Hicks Pierre. Velazquillo's main hope is that Congress will enact legislation that would make it easier for young illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens if they attend college or serve in the military.