U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, have each introduced legislation in support of a Denver-area father facing deportation after he was detained by immigration officialslast month during what he thought was the last process in getting his green card.
It’s unclear what impact the measures — known as private bills — will have on the case of Melecio Andazola Morales.
The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under President Donald Trump, changed its policy in May to stop deferring action in the wake of such legislation, often a last-ditch effort by federal lawmakers to halt a deportation.
Andazola Morales’ case has garnered national attention, much of it stemming from activism by his daughter — Yale senior Viviana Andazola Marquez — who has been calling for his release.
Andazola Morales was at an interview with an immigration agent Oct. 12, believing he was about to be granted U.S. residency his supporters say, when he was detained.
“Mr. Andazola was previously deported from the United States in March 1997,” ICE spokesman Gregory Palmore said via email in an earlier statement to The Denver Post. “His previous removal order has been reinstated, and he remains in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.”
Hans Meyer, Andazola Morales’ immigration attorney, told reporters earlier that his client has no criminal record beyond his unlawful entry into the U.S.
Private bills have been filed in the past on behalf of Colorado immigrants living in the U.S. unlawfully and facing deportation.
Earlier this year, Bennet and Perlmutter introduced legislation to aid Arturo Hernandez Garcia, who spent nine months living in the basement of a Denver church to avoid deportation and was arrested earlier this year by immigration officers for removal from the U.S.
Hernandez Garcia was then granted a stay of deportation until 2019.
Bennet and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, backed measures on behalf of Jeanette Vizguerrawho lived in Denver churches for 86 days to avoid immigration authorities and deportation.
Vizguerra, too, was granted a stayof deportation until 2019.
In a statement Tuesday, Meyer said the outcome of Andazola Morales’ case could have far-reaching ramifications.
“Melecio Andazola Morales is the test case that will determine whether local ICE still has any discretion to join local and federal elected officials, thousands of faith leaders, students, professors, and community members, or whether the Trump administration has completely closed the book on any sense of humanity.”
Content originally published by the Denver Post on November 14, 2017.