she can stay, for now
October 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
TAMPA – Wendy Garcia emerged from a high-stakes hearing with Immigration officials Monday feeling relieved and hopeful that perhaps she can remain in the US and raise her 3-month-old son here. The federal agency granted her a one-month reprieve from deportation to her native Guatemala after the meeting at the ICE offices in Tampa. Garcia, 21, who has lived in Sarasota under political asylum for more than a decade, wants to stay here, marry her fiance and raise their baby as American citizens. But Garcia’s fight to stay in the country is far from over. As it has been for months, Garcia’s fate is in limbo until November, when she must again appear before immigration officials in Tampa. Garcia said that after explaining her situation to ICE officials, they encouraged her to find a good lawyer. The couple thinks a previous lawyer may have exacerbated the problem by giving them bad advice, such as avoiding paying certain fines. Garcia was also given paperwork to file for a work permit, which could be a hint that ICE officials may allow her to stay. The U.S. recently revoked the asylum status of Garcia and her father, who was arrested while working as a landscaper at The Oaks subdivision and deported earlier this year. Despite the uncertainty, the hearing was a victory for Garcia and her family, since all involved worried that she and her baby would be deported immediately after the Tampa hearing. Garcia’s father was a soldier in the U.S.-backed Guatemalan army during the country’s 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996 and left thousands of civilians dead. Garcia’s fiance pleaded for mercy from immigration officials.