A Charlotte high school student charged with embezzling money from a Harris Teeter won’t be deported. But he’ll still be returning to his native country, Mexico. Gus Zamudio had his final immigration hearing Tuesday.
The teen took a plea deal last week in Mecklenburg County District court that lowered his criminal felony charge to a misdemeanor. His immigration attorney Marty Rosenbluth believes that worked in his favor.
An immigration judge in Lumpkin, Georgia granted Zamudio what’s called a "voluntary departure." That’s what Rosenbluth was hoping for.
"By not having a deportation order on his record, he can apply for a visa to come back," said Rosenbluth. "He can apply for a student visa or a tourist visa. Like everyone else they are going to look at his application and weigh the equities, but at least the door isn’t 100% closed."
It would be, if he was given deportation orders.
Zamudio had been living in Charlotte under the DACA program, which is for immigrants who arrived in the country as children. His arrest on a felony charge last month prompted immigration officials to initiate deportation proceedings to Mexico as part of a new Trump administration policy. The previous policy had been to wait until conviction.
Zamudio is just a few months shy of graduating from Northwest School of the Arts. Rosenbluth was hoping the judge would let him graduate before departing. But under the ruling, as soon as Zamudio’s plane ticket is purchased, he’ll go directly from the detention center to the airport.
Since he is leaving voluntary Rosenbluth points out, there is no waiting to apply for a visa, should he want to come back to the United States and visit friends and family in Charlotte.