Immigrant father in Houston 'Out of Time' case given a reprieve
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  • Kimberly Rodriguez high-fives David Medina, left, which is one of the family's lawyer and former Justice of the nine-member Texas Supreme Court, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Houston. Photo: Marie D. De Jesus, Houston Chronicle / © 2018 Houston Chronicle
Photo: Marie D. De Jesus, Houston Chronicle
Kimberly Rodriguez high-fives David Medina, left, which is one of the family's lawyer and former Justice of the nine-member Texas Supreme Court, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Houston.

Juan Rodríguez went to the Immigration and Customs Authorities headquarters in Houston this morning for an appointment, prepared to be deported.

Instead, the undocumented Salvadoran father, was granted an extension to stay in his Houston home with his wife and three daughters, all American citizens, until the Board of Immigration Appeal rules on his request for asylum.

Rodriguez became caught up in the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented immigration in February 2017, when he went to his regular check-in ICE. He'd done it 25 times before, the beneficiary of "prosecutorial discretion" granted by immigration officials to many of the undocumented who have no criminal record. But this time, Rodriguez was told he would be deported because "the rules have changed" under Trump.

He pleaded at the time for an extension so that he could watch his eldest daughter graduate from high school. When the Chronicle began telling his story in a series, "Out of Time," the city's Hispanic Bar Association came to his aid and succeeded in winning him further reprieves.

But it was not clear what would happen Wednesday morning when Rodriguez arrived at ICE headquarters in Northpoint with his family at 8 a.m. He was also accompanied by his lawyers, Carolina Ortuzar-Díaz and Jacob Monty, both partners in Monty and Ramirez LLP, a law firm specialized in immigration law.

As the days tick down until Juan Rodriguez's scheduled deportation, he and his family are trying to stave off that fate and enjoy the time they have left with each other in the United States.

They presented a request for a stay so that Rodriguez's request for asylum could be ruled upon by the appellate board. They had reason to believe some extension would be granted.

Last week, in anticipation of Wednesday's check-in, three lawyers from the Hispanic Bar Association met with lawyers in the Department of Justice and received indications that the Trump administration would not insist on Rodriguez's immediate deportation, according to one of the three lawyers, former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina.

Medina was expecting that Rodriguez would receive at least a 30-day extension on Wednesday.

Instead, he and his colleagues were surprised that ICE granted an extension with no specific end date, lasting until the appellate board rules, which could take six months or more.

"This is great news," said Juan Vazquez, another of the Hispanic Bar Association lawyers.

While they await the board's ruling, Rodriguez's attorneys will pursue a parallel process in which he is claimed as a husband for citizenship by his wife, Celia, via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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