Another Connecticut family is fighting to stay together, after the father of two received deportation orders.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told him he has to leave by Jan. 31, and on Thursday, supporters rallied in Hartford to do all they can to keep him here in the U.S.
Joel Colindres fled Guatemala in 2004 because of death threats against his family for their religious practices.
In fact, in the last year, three of Joel’s relatives have been murdered.
He says being forced to go back to that dangerous and violent environment would essentially be a death sentence.
On Thursday, activists, family, friends, and legislators braved the cold to support Colindres.
“As hard as it is to be here and it’s a little sad, it’s very uplifting to know there are so many more good people in this world than there are bad,” said Samantha Colindres, Joel’s wife.
He has lived in the United States for the last 14 years.
He’s a homeowner in New Fairfield, a taxpayer, and has worked at the same company for more than a decade.
Joel has been married to Samantha, a U.S. citizen, for the last eight years.
They have a 6-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
“That’s why I’m here to fight again to protect those two innocent children who as citizens themselves have a right to have their father in the united states with them,” Samantha Colindres said.
While his family says Joel has complied with ICE every step of the way, in July of last year he received a deportation order.
Forty minutes before he was set to fly back to Guatemala, he was notified a stay would be granted.
Then just three days after Christmas, he was told once again to leave the country with a one-way ticket by Jan. 31.
“The federal government has discretion not to deport him and there is no reason in the world that it makes anyone safer or any community stronger to deport someone like Joel,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
Now Joel’s family just want him to have his day in court to allow an immigration judge to hear his side of the story.
“God gave us the power of a voice and we can fight and we can fix all the damage that’s being done,” Samantha said.
Joel’s attorney has filed two emergency stays.
They’re hoping to get his case reviewed before it’s too late.
There is also a petition to keep Joel in the United States.
Right now, it has more than 13,000 signatures.
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