Supporters of an immigrant facing deportation to Colombia rallied outside of the Hartford federal courthouse on Monday to call on authorities to let him stay in the U.S. while he tries to get his asylum case reopened.
Around 10:30 a.m., supporters gathered with Francisco Acosta, the 58-year-old who was ordered to report to federal immigration authorities on Monday with a one-way ticket to Colombia for January 15.
Acosta said he fled Colombia in 2001 because of violence and threats to his life. He entered the U.S. illegally and ended up living in Hartford. He is a janitor at Wesleyan University in Middletown and a student-led petition circulating the school has received 300 signatures.
Acosta does not speak English, but NBC Connecticut’s Catalina Trivino translated some of what he said in Spanish during the rally.
"I’m asking ICE officials and all those pertinent in my case to stop my deportation and to revise my case," Acosta said in a statement written in Spanish.
Acosta's political asylum case failed, but he was granted regular stays of removal until the Trump administration changed policies on immigrants this year.
On Monday, Acosta and his attorney met with ICE to ask them to review his asylum claim and to reconsider his stay because he is the primary caregiver of his 82-year-old mother, Nora Serna, who has cancer. Serna does not speak English, but she was in tears when asked about how she felt and she said she is sad about her son’s possible deportation, especially because most of their family is in Hartford.
Students from Wesleyan University where Acosta works as a janitor also showed up to the rally to support him. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and other state leaders also attended the rally.
Blumenthal had a message for President Donald Trump.
“Mr. President: Care about this man who is seeking safety in this country from the forces of evil and persecution and violence in Colombia,” Blumenthal said.
As of Monday afternoon, Acosta can be tracked by ICE after a GPS ankle bracelet was placed on him.
ICE officials told NBC Connecticut that Acosta was required to show proof that he intends to leave the US. There is no word on if or when a stay might be granted.