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Undocumented could be deported to a country he has not seen in 18 years but he dreams for passage of the DREAM Act

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

Undocumented immigrant Julio Tellez is facing deportation to his native Mexico but he hopes to stay in the United States, the only country he knows and calls home.  He will learn the decision marking his future next week.

Tellez, 25, of Hamilton, Ohio said his life has been placed on hold since his deportation proceedings began in 2008, and he is tired but has vowed to keep fighting.

“I feel as American as anyone else because I grew up in this society; this is my home,” he said.

Jorge Martínez, Tellez’s attorney, will file a request for asylum at the next court appearance Jan. 25, 2012 before Federal Immigration Judge Thomas Janas in the U.S. District court in Cleveland.

Martínez sought a dismissal of the deportation case by using Prosecutorial Discretion on Tellez’s last two court dates in Cleveland on Oct.12 and Dec.14, 2011, but the requests were denied by the federal government. Tellez said it was unclear why the requests were denied.

Instead he was granted a temporary stay and his case was delayed. Judge Janas issued a continuance of 40 days on Dec. 14 and previously 60 days on Oct. 12.

A crowd of supporters from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Painesville, and Lorain including members of the Amos Project, based in Cincinnati, church leaders and members, activists from H.O.L.A, members of the Committee Oscar Romero and members of Occupy Cleveland have held vigils and marched with him in rallies throughout Cleveland surrounding his court dates. Many shouted “Education, Not Deportation.”

Tellez said he is grateful for the support.

“I would like to thank them for everything they’ve done,” Tellez said “Most have been out of work or school to help me out.”

Attorney Martٌínez plans to ask for a dismissal by prosecutorial discretion again when he takes the case to the Federal Board of Immigration Appeals or request deferred-action status for Tellez. That would allow him to stay in the United States for one year and is renewable.

The Prosecutorial Discretion Memo was issued by ICE Director John Morton, and states the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security should make it a greater priority to deport undocumented immigrants who have felonies or are hardened criminals and place other cases on lower priority.

A previous misdemeanor attempted theft charge may complicate Tellez’s case. Tellez said the theft committed at the age of 17 “was a mistake” and he has paid the penalties in court to Butler County after attempting to steal a compact disc and video game from a Hamilton store.



In January of 2008, Tellez was returning to Ohio after a work related trip in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when his vehicle broke down in Belmont County. The county sheriff arrived to help him but upon learning Tellez did not have legal documentation, ICE officials were called and Tellez was arrested. He spent 3 days in jail where he said worries flooded his mind.

“You have a lot to think about in there. Your whole family, your friends, they cross your mind and you think, ‘will I ever get to see them again?’” he said.

Tellez said the idea of being deported to a country he has not visited in 18 years and has few family ties really worried him.

“I was shocked. [If deported to Mexico] I didn’t know what I’d be doing, where I’d be living.”

Tellez said he was 6 years old when he first came to the U.S. in 1994 with his mother and older sister, after his mother fled from a violent relationship with Tellez’s father. They were granted temporary VISAS, he said. After a brief visit to Mexico for a few months, he returned to the U.S. at the age of 8.

Tellez, a 2005 Hamilton High School graduate, dreams of becoming a civil engineer one day.

He was pursuing an undergraduate degree in Engineering at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, but was forced to leave after one year of enrollment because he could not afford the tuition.

He is the main financial provider for his family including his younger brother and sister who are U.S. citizens.  In 2009, Tellez became an entrepreneur; He has been working at a construction company he created.

“My mom has arthritis in her feet and ankles and can’t stand or work that much,” Tellez said.

He said he is frustrated and tired of his current limbo status.

“I want to go back to school. I feel like my life is on hold. I work and I have no life. I want to go back to school, so I can have a better job and be smarter,” Tellez said.

If the DREAM ACT or a similar measure were to pass in Congress, Tellez would qualify.

The DREAM ACT bill failed to pass in Congress in 2010 but it offered a pathway to first permanent residency and eventually citizenship for qualifying undocumented immigrants of good moral character brought to the U.S. as children if they attended college or joined the military among other requirements.

Tellez said he hopes the country will pass a DREAM ACT measure or undergo immigration reform in the next year or two.

Tellez has a message of hope for any other undocumented immigrant facing the same battle.

He said “Together we’ll overcome all of this. Put your head up and keep fighting.”

Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/17/12 13:19:32 -0800.





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