NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man who entered the U.S. illegally more than 25 years ago received a 60-day extension Friday to seek a stay of deportation after several dozen members of the clergy and a U.S. senator showed their support by marching to a federal building in Newark, New Jersey.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, and New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez were among those who rallied in support of Catalino Guerrero on Friday.
Organizers said the 59-year-old Guerrero came here illegally from Mexico in 1991 and has worked ever since, owns his house and has no criminal record. The grandfather of four applied for a work permit several years ago, but filled out a form incorrectly, they said.
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, his attempt to apply for legal status got bungled when an accountant, not an attorney mistakenly had him apply for asylum.
Guerrero’s family said he didn’t realize the mistake until 8 years later, when he was ordered to court and put into the deportation process.
“This case underscores how important it is to lawyer up properly, and do your homework,” immigration lawyer Michael Wilde said.
Wilde said Guerrero needs to put in the work if he wants to stay in the country.
“He could’ve applied for a remedy called Cancellation of Removal, which means he’s been here 10 years, has good moral character, and extreme and unusual hardship for the loved ones in his life,” Wilde said.
His family fears he won’t receive the proper care in Mexico for his diabetes, and may even be extorted by criminals there because he has family in the U.S., 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman reported.
“I’m worried about him, he might go away and I’ll never see him again,” his granddaughter said. “He’s not a criminal, he didn’t do anything.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials summoned Guerrero last month and told him to plan to surrender his passport on March 10, Guerrero’s supporters said this week. He was seeking a year stay of removal, but that request was denied Friday.
An ICE spokesman said in an email Thursday that Guerrero, “a Mexican national unlawfully present, was ordered removed from the United States in 2009 by an immigration judge. Guerrero remains free from custody and must periodically report to ICE as a condition of his release.”
He is due back to report on May 22.
Menendez said the president needs to prioritize who is deported.
“I hope President Trump is watching, because Catalino Guerrero is not a bad hombre, he is a good and decent man,” Menendez said.
Tobin has been critical of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Last month, he called Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries “misbegotten” and said it was “playing on irrational fears of people.”
Tobin said lawmakers should focus on fixing immigration laws rather than on large-scale deportation.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a steady stream of criticisms of Trump’s restrictions on refugees and immigrants. Through Catholic Charities and other programs, American bishops consistently resettle the largest number of refugees annually in the U.S. and provide support nationwide for immigrants.
Other faith groups are mobilizing their congregations to fight Trump’s policies, including a network of 37 Protestant and Orthodox denominations that work with the aid group Church World Service. Hundreds of houses of worship around the country have joined the sanctuary movement, which provides support or housing to people facing deportation.
Among others leading protests are U.S. Muslim and Jewish groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest American synagogue movement.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)