A New Fairfield man is to be deported next week to his native Guatemala.
Joel Colindres, a father of two United States citizen children, came to the country illegally in 2004.
Colindres spoke Thursday in Hartford after a final check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said that he fled Guatemala because of religious persecution, and is fearful for his life if he goes back.
“It’s running away from being killed,” Colindres said.
His wife Samantha, a U.S. citizen, said three of her husband’s family members were killed by Guatemalan gangsters.
She has held several events to draw attention to her husband’s situation and said he’s fed up.
“[There] shouldn’t have to be that many events for them to get the message that what they’re doing is wrong -- to send Joel back to a country [where he’ll face] his certain death,” she said.
Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke on behalf of Joel Colindres at the rally. He said that Colindres should be untouchable because he has never been arrested for any crimes.
“There is no rationale or reason that a man who has followed all the laws, [has] done it right all the way along, [is] married to a United States citizen, [is] sponsored for citizenship here by her in accordance of the law, should be deported,” Blumenthal said. “There is no reason or rationale for it and it flies in the face of assurances given to me by the secretary of homeland security just 10 days ago in a hearing of the United States Senate -- that the focus would be on criminals.”
Blumenthal also talked about the letters that the Department of Justice sent to 23 communities nationwide earlier this week, including New York City, alerting them that their immigration policies were under review.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that any failure to comply with President Trump’s immigration policies by so-called “sanctuary cities” would result in a subpoena.
“The attorney general of the United States seems to have little or no respect for court orders that have banned exactly the kind of action that he is threatening to take,” Blumenthal said. “We need to stand up and speak out to make sure the rule of law is respected.”
If the cities are found to be in violation of federal immigration practices, they could lose out on federal grants.
No Connecticut city received a letter.
Originally, Colindres was ordered for deportation in August. He was granted a stay 90 minutes before his plane took off.
Samantha Colindres said that her children will likely never see their father again. “I can’t put my children through another airport day like it was on August 17,” she said.
A spokesman for ICE said that Colindres remains subject to a final order of removal.
Francisco Acosta, a Colombian national who works at Wesleyan University in Middletown, has also faced deportation orders. Earlier this week, he was granted a temporary stay of removal by ICE.