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Arturo Hernandez Garcia gets brief reprieve, released by ICE
Arturo Hernandez Garcia, the first person to claim sanctuary in Colorado, was released from ICE custody late Tuesday, fueling hopes an appeals court will allow him to stay in the United States for good.
Hernandez Garcia was “granted a brief reprieve” so he could attend his daughter’s high school graduation, said his attorney, Laura Lichter, on Tuesday night. His legal team will use this time to ask an appeals court to revisit his case, Lichter said.
“Mr. Hernandez (Garcia) and his family have been pursuing legal status in the United States for nearly a quarter of a century — if he were deported, it would be another decade before he would be able to realize that dream,” Lichter said.
Hernandez Garcia and his family have lived in Colorado for 17 years. He is a small-business owner and started his company as a subcontractor in the construction industry in 2008. He provides employment to eight to nine people annually, say his supporters.
Hernandez Garcia was at work last week when ICE officers detained him unexpectedly. In October 2014, he took refuge in the basement of a Denver church for nine months, returning to his family in July 2015, after ICE sent him a letter saying he was no longer an enforcement priority.
But last week, he was taken to a contract federal detention center in Aurora, pending his removal from the country, according to ICE and his supporters.
“Hernandez Garcia has overstayed his original, six-month visa by nearly 14 years,” ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said in a written statement last week. “He has exhausted his petitions through the immigration courts and through ICE.”
His arrest sparked supporters to advocate for his release. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet introduced legislation to aid Hernandez Garcia. He also got backing from U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter.
“I want to thank my lawyer, Congressman Perlmutter and Sen. Bennet for their efforts on my behalf,” Hernandez Garcia said. “I am so grateful to all of the community members who prayed and demonstrated for me.”
He and his wife, Ana Sauzameda, thanked ICE for recognizing his claims to remain in the United States and to allow them to be together for his daughter’s graduation.Content originally published by the Denver Post on May 2, 2017.