Originally published by The Washington Post
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement denied a humanitarian appeal to keep David Chavez-Macias in the United States, deporting him back to Mexico despite the fact that he suffers from a rare genetic disorder.
After years of what his attorney Dee Sull said was misguided legal advice, Chavez-Macias was pulled over in 2013 for a routine traffic violation, which led to a deportation order. He was granted a stay on his deportation last August but was told in February that he had one month to prepare to leave the country. ICE officials placed an ankle bracelet on him, and he showed up at the ICE office in Reno, Nevada, last Friday to turn himself in. He was on a plane later that day, Sull said.
His wife, who is currently petitioning for U.S. citizenship, and four children, all of whom are beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will remain in the U.S.
Sull, who began representing Chavez-Macias last spring, hoped that she’d be able to appeal his deportation on humanitarian grounds, given the severity of his condition and the difficulty he may face in finding treatment near his hometown of Aguascalientes, Mexico. The closest urban medical center, she added, is three to four hours away.
Chavez-Macias suffers from Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that has caused him severe heart complications for many years. Following an examination earlier this month, his doctors recommended he undergo heart surgery, Sull said. She even had his doctors explain to ICE just how dire the situation was.
“Unfortunately, ICE did not value their opinion,” Sull said.
She believes that their determination to carry out the deportation stems from Chavez-Macias’ decision to seek sanctuary in a church last April, an attempt to evade deportation. He lived at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship until the deportation order was lifted several months later.
“I believe that penalized him,” she said. “ICE does have this jurisdiction and they chose to exercise it. But that’s not what America is about.”
ICE didn’t comment on the humanitarian situation, merely pointing out that the six-month stay he was granted had expired.
“He was ordered removed by an immigration judge in November 1996,” ICE spokeswoman Lori K. Haley said in a statement. “A request for a stay of removal was granted for six months, which concluded Feb. 12.”
But people in Chavez-Macias’ community are concerned for his life.
“Despite my repeated efforts to prevent this tragedy, the Department of Homeland Security refused to keep David with his family where he can receive the medical support he needs,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) wrote in a Facebook post Monday.
Did our government just put a timeline on his life?
local activist Alejandra Hernandez-Chavez
“Did our government just put a timeline on his life?” asked local activist Alejandra Hernandez-Chavez at a protest at ICE’s Reno office last Friday against Chavez-Macias’ deportation.
His prospects of being able to return to the U.S. aren’t favorable, Sull said. Because none of his family members are U.S. citizens, he isn’t able to petition for citizenship. His two brothers are lawful permanent residents who are currently petitioning for citizenship, but even if it’s granted to them, the process for Chavez-Macias to then petition for citizenship could take as much as 20 years.
“We’re very concerned,” she said.