An undocumented immigrant from Connecticut was granted a stay of deportation on Friday afternoon.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal revealed on Friday that Luis Barrios was given a two-year stay in the United States, just days away from being deported from the country. Barrios said he'll be fighting for asylum, so he can stay permanently.
"It's like a miracle for me," Barrios said.
Blumenthal said deportation should not apply to Barrios because he has no criminal record. Blumenthal added that he is waiting for an explanation on policy when it comes to these situations with no criminal record.
"I could not be prouder to stand with this beautiful family today as they celebrate this wonderful news. This is a meaningful and positive step forward, but the process is not yet over. I’m just as committed to getting a positive permanent decision as I have ever been, so Luis and the Barrios family can get the relief they deserve. Unfortunately, the peace, security and relief they enjoy today eludes far too many others who still face deportation and destruction of their families. I will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform to provide lasting change to our broken immigration system," Blumenthal said in a statement on Friday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials removed his ankle bracelet.
"So many people come here for a different life, better future," Barrios said.
Barrios, who made a life for himself in Derby with a wife and four children, has been fending off deportation to his home country of Guatemala where his father was threatened and killed. Barrios, who works in sanitation, said he fears going back because he could also become a victim.
"His return to Guatemala would put him in jeopardy of death, torture, serious injury," Blumenthal said.
In 1998, Barrios, who never became a citizen, was ordered to go back to Guatemala because he didn't show up for an Ayslum hearing. In 2011, Connecticut State Police pulled him over for a broken taillight and turned him over to federal agents.
Barrios was granted a stay each year, until recently, when he was told he was going be deported. Blumenthal intervened, arguing deportation shouldn't apply to someone without a criminal background. At the beginning of the month, Barrios was granted a 30-day stay and on Friday, he was given two more years.
"I just burst into tears with joy of just being here with my dad today," his daughter Jessica Barrios said.
Blumenthal said Barrios' case, this is a "stay," so he can seek and file for asylum.
"It shows that they're truly looking into his case and that people care," Jessica Barrios said.
"We have to keep the families together, everywhere. This country opens the door to everyone," Luis Barrios said.
Eyewitness News asked Luis Barrios how he plans to celebrate this decision on Friday. Luis Barrios said he didn't have anything planned, other than hugging his family.
Other Connecticut lawmakers reacted to the news on Friday. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said he was happy Barrios "can stay here at home with his wife and kids."
“I’m happy Connecticut’s congressional delegation could act quickly and help," Murphy said in a statement on Friday.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said she was "overwhelmed with joy" that Barrios has been granted a two-year stay.
"Luis’s family, the Derby community, and the many advocacy groups working on his behalf have helped shine a light on this case and made today’s announcement possible. While we have achieved a great milestone in Luis’s immigration case, there is still much more work to do," DeLauro said in a statement on Friday.
DeLauro called on the U.S. Department of Justice to "reopen this case immediately and give Luis the opportunity to present his case for asylum."
"We also must continue to fight the Trump Administration’s immoral actions on immigration and Congress should immediately pass comprehensive immigration reform to end the cruel practice of breaking up families," DeLauro said.
Blumenthal said he originally planned to provide that update at a noon news conference first designated to discuss Blumenthal's take on the firing of FBI director James Comey. Blumenthal modified that news conference to include his news about Barrios.
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