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Kjerstin Wood/MEDILL

Anibal Fuentes Aguilar and his son, Franky, in their Albany Park apartment where Immigrations and Custom Enforcement took Fuentes into custody on Dec. 13.

Albany Park resident fights deportation to stay with wife, infant son

by Kjerstin Wood
Jan 30, 2014


Kjerstin Wood/MEDILL

Fuentes holds his 6-month-old son, Franky, who is a U.S. citizen, while showing his ankle bracelet during Thursday's press conference.


Kjerstin Wood/MEDILL

The ankle bracelet that Fuentes wears while awaiting a decision on his deportation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Kjerstin Wood/MEDILL

Kjerstin Wood/MEDILL

Anibal Fuentes Aguilar introduces himself during the press conference Thursday, calling attention to his case. Executive Minister Larry Greenfield, pictured above on the left, of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago speaks in support of Fuentes and says there is "nothing to be gained" by deporting Fuentes.

Anibal Fuentes Aguilar, an undocumented immigrant, faces the daily fear of leaving his wife and 6-month-old son behind.

“My son, Franky, has acid reflux and needs medicine and care,” Fuentes said last week through an interpreter. “I’m the only one who provides for my wife and my son.”

The 27-year-old Albany Park resident is facing deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a raid on his apartment complex last year, when officers were looking for another person and inquired about Fuentes’ status.

He was told he must voluntarily leave for his native Guatemala by Jan. 31, but was granted a two- to three-week stay on his deportation while Immigration and Customs Enforcement reviews his case for prosecutorial discretion, groups supporting Fuentes announced at a press conference at the Chicago Temple Thursday.

ICE made Fuentes’ deportation a priority because he has a prior deportation on record, Gail Montenegro, public affairs officer for ICE, said by email. He was detained on Dec. 13 and was released from ICE custody Dec. 19 with electronic monitoring.

Fuentes, a day laborer, has worn an ankle bracelet since he was released and attends weekly check-ins with ICE, he said. His prior deportation was when he tried to re-enter the United States after attending his mother’s funeral in Guatemala in 2009.

“I came here to support my family,” Fuentes said through an interpreter last week. “I have no family left in Guatemala.”

Fuentes filed the documents for prosecutorial discretion on Tuesday, said attorney Salvador Cicero, who is handling Fuentes’ defence pro-bono after receiving a call directly from the Consulate General of Guatemala in Chicago, asking him to take on the case.

Cicero and several groups, including Organized Communities against Deportation and the Immigrant Youth Justice League, have helped compile the necessary information to complete the paperwork, Cicero said. Since Fuentes has no criminal record and his son, Franky, is a U.S. citizen, Fuentes has a good case, Cicero said.

“We all agree that he is here without permission, that he has this prior deportation,” Cicero said in a telephone interview. “We are asking the prosecutor, please don’t enforce this law against him.”

Religious and community leaders also spoke in support of Fuentes at the news conference. Larry Greenfield, executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, said there is nothing to be gained by deporting Fuentes.

“What on the other hand is to be gained by stopping his deportation?” Greenfield said. “A whole lot. For one thing, we keep a family together.”

It will take two or three weeks for Fuentes to get a response from ICE, which is typical, Cicero said.

“ICE carefully considers and reviews the merits of each case and takes appropriate action on a case-by-case basis,” Montenegro said in the ICE statement. They are focused on “sensible, effective immigration enforcement” with the priorities being on individuals who have a criminal record, prior deportations and other outstanding orders, she said.

In the 2013 fiscal year, the Chicago ICE office had deported 7,825 people throughout the states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri, 78 percent of whom ICE says are convicted criminals, Montenegro said.