Rally Held for New Fairfield Dad Fighting Deportation to Guatemala

A rally was held Thursday for a New Fairfield father who has been fighting deportation to Guatemala, which is scheduled to happen at the end of January.

Joel Colindres, 33, had been ordered to leave the United States in August, and was at the airport, when he received the news that a temporary stay was granted. Just before Christmas the father of a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter learned that he is now scheduled to be deported at the end of January.

Supporters said has committed no crimes, is employed, pays taxes and is raising a family.

His attorney said Colindres, who entered the United States 13 years ago, missed a court hearing in 2004, which triggered the deportation notice that is being enforced by the current administration.

Colindres said he was 20 years old at the time and living in Texas when he missed the immigration court date.

Samantha, Colindres’ wife of seven years, said her husband never received the order to appear in court.

"They had his address completely wrong, his first name was spelled with a k, his last name was wrong, he never even received the order to go the court," she previously said.

Because of the order, Colindres said he cannot apply for citizenship. Instead, he was granted several Stay of Deportation or "stays," which is an ICE-approved order that allowed him to remain in the country for one year.

“Joel Calinders-Guerra, an illegally present citizen of Guatemala, was issued a final order of removal by a federal immigration judge in 2004,” a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says. “Since then he has sought relief from removal via several court actions and has been denied each. He remains subject to a final order of removal.

For operational security reasons, the agency does not discuss specific removal arrangements prior to an individual’s successful repatriation. “

Colindres allegedly faces retribution if he returns to Guatemala and officials said that three of close family members have been murdered in the last year, but did not elaborate on the circumstances.

Increased drug trafficking coupled with rising gang violence and easy access to firearms has helped place Guatemala among the world's deadliest nations in terms of murder rates, according to the U.S. Department of State. Guatemala is also a major transit country for cocaine and heroin, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

When asked how his family is being threatened, Colindres has declined to comment.

Colindres' attorney, Erin O’Neil-Baker, said her client’s best chance of staying in this country included his claims for asylum and the fact that deportation would be a hardship on his wife and two children.

"I don’t think you have any idea how hard it is to become part of this country," Colindres said in the past.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said he will be contacting the Secretary of Homeland Security “demanding Joel Colindres be given a full and fair day in court, and that this deportation be stopped.”

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