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Cleveland Judge allows potential DREAMer Julio Tellez to stay in the U.S. pending an asylum request, Attorney hopes for passage of the DREAM Act

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

Undocumented immigrant Julio Tellez is breathing sighs of relief and wants to scream with joy.

Federal Immigration Judge Thomas Janas of the U.S. District Court in Cleveland has once again set aside the order to deport Tellez to Mexico. The judge has thus allowed Tellez to stay in the U.S. for an additional two years, after Tellez’s lawyer, Jorge Hernán Martínez, filed for an asylum request, Jan.25, 2012.

Tellez’s next court date at the federal immigration court in Cleveland is in March of 2014, where he will have to convince the judge to grant him asylum.

After his court appearance Jan.25, Tellez wrote on Facebook, “I’m super stoked! We were granted a two years court date until 2014! No more courts for a while! I (want) to scream so loud!”

Tellez, 25, of Hamilton, Ohio, who has been dealing with immigration court appearances often every few months, called the 2-year-delay a great victory.

“I’m super excited. I feel like I’m 100 pounds lighter. I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders. I feel so happy,” Tellez said.

His lawyer, Martínez said he refuses to call the delay a victory.

“I respect that Julio is happy; I’m happy too but I cannot say that that is a big win,” he said. “I don’t want to portray that as an accomplishment.”

Martínez said he filed an asylum request for Tellez in order to gain more time.

But Martínez said by default, when an individual files for an asylum request, he or she is given a future court date, typically two years into the future, to allow the individual to gather testimonies and any other evidence to build a case.

A two-year timeframe is usually the allotted time given Martínez said, but there may be rare cases where individuals are granted more than two years or granted only a few months to gather any evidence.

Martínez said he plans to gather sufficient solid evidence showing that Tellez, along with his mother and older sister, came to the United States escaping domestic violence from Tellez’s father in Mexico.

“I think we have a good case,” Martínez said. “We are preparing the case, getting the information ready and waiting to see what happens.”

In the meantime, Tellez has been celebrating his victory by speaking to others.

Just one day after his court hearing, Jan.26, Tellez traveled to San Francisco with a few other members of the Oscar Romero Committee from Cincinnati to learn more about immigration law and to speak to other undocumented immigrants and citizens within church sites.

“I’m going to share my story, tell immigrants they have rights,” Tellez said “We are empowering the community.”

While the asylum request is pending, immigrants may apply for a work permit (a process taking roughly 3 to 4 months), a social security number and a driver’s license.

If Tellez is approved for a work permit, he will then qualify for the request of a driver’s license. Martínez said although Tellez does not have legal status, he has already been assigned a social security number, back when he first arrived in California.

If asylum is granted, he can file for permanent residence after one year.

Martínez said he hopes the request for asylum will win his client enough time for a better legal move.

Attorney hopes for passage of the DREAM Act

“My hope is that in those two years we’ll have the DREAM Act,” Martínez said “And (Tellez) could instead apply for that.”

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 December of 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.

Several politicians who voted against that DREAM Act bill said it would allow immigration officials to more aggressively pursue the parents of DREAMers or that it did not adequately deal with the entire immigration issue.

Martínez said those reasons did not convince him.

“That’s not true; that’s an excuse,” Martínez said “It was painful to see that the politicians stood in the way of it.”

He added “That would be a blessing. If nothing is going to pass, I’d take the DREAM Act anytime.”

Martínez on three attempts had sought a dismissal of the deportation case by using Prosecutorial Discretion at Tellez’s previous court dates, but the requests were denied by the federal government. Martínez said they were not given any reasons why Tellez was denied.

Instead of gaining a dismissal of his order of deportation, his case was delayed.  Judge Janas issued a continuance of 40 days on Dec. 14, 2011 and previously for 60 days on Oct. 12, 2011.

The Prosecutorial Discretion Memo, issued by ICE Director John Morton, states ICE 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, like Tellez’s, on lower priority.  

Martínez said Tellez is considered a low priority. Tellez’s criminal record includes a previous misdemeanor attempted theft charge. 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.

Tellez has battled with a possible deportation to his native Mexico since Jan. of 2008, after his van broke down in Belmont County while returning to Ohio from a work related trip in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The county sheriff arrived to help him but upon learning Tellez did not have legal documentation, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials were called and Tellez was arrested. He spent 3 days in jail.

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

If deported to Mexico, Tellez said he does not 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 visitor VISAs, that later expired and were not renewed, 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.

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


Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/31/12 13:15:36 -0800.





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