PITTSBURGH, PA (WPXI) – An undocumented immigrant facing deportation for entering the country illegally may be allowed to stay.
A federal judge agreed to reduce the felony charge against Martin Esquivel-Herenandez to a misdemeanor.
“I thought it was a great day for the family,” said Guillermo Perez, president of the Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. “I thought it was a great day for the Latino community and immigrant community here in Pittsburgh.”
Esquivel-Herenandez came to Pittsburgh after escaping violence in Mexico. He has already been deported several times, and was most recently arrested this past spring. He and his wife have three children, including a 4-year-old who is a U.S. citizen.
“They’re still separated from Martin,” Perez said. “It’s a very emotional thing to see children having to see their father treated like a criminal.”
Nobody denies that Esquivel-Herenandez broke the law, but supporters say he did it for his family. Many rallied around him with public protests. They believe he’s an important asset to the Brookline and Beechview communities.
“What I would say to people who say that Martin deserved to be a felon, that he deserved to be deported, deserves to be separated from his family? I guess what I would say is, you don’t know Martin,” Perez said.
U.S. Customs and Immigration will decide next year whether or not to deport Esquivel-Herenandez again. He remains in prison.
In response, his wife, Alma, and their two daughters fled later that year, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and ending up in San Jose, Calif. After a brief time there, Alma and the daughters moved to Pittsburgh, where Esquivel-Hernandez’s mother, who is also undocumented, has been living since 2005.
But Esquivel-Hernandez’s attempts to follow them failed repeatedly. According to federal authorities, he was captured trying to cross the U.S. border and returned to Mexico on four separate occasions between November 2011 and May 2012.
According to the City Paper, on his fifth attempt, Esquivel-Hernandez entered the U.S. undetected and traveled to Pittsburgh.
Esquivel-Hernandez remained undetected in Pittsburgh until May of this year, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers took him from his Pittsburgh home.
His arrest followed two traffic citations for driving without a license in the Pittsburgh area…
*Editor’s note: U.S. federal code still refers to those who cross into this country without permission as “illegal aliens.” Calling these people “immigrants” is an affront to those who respect our laws and come this country legally. It should also be noted that Martin Esquivel-Herenandez cannot be fairly described as “undocumented,” as he has been well documented crossing into this nation illegally on several occasions.