STAMFORD, Conn. — Just in time for Thanksgiving, a Stamford mother of two facing deportation was granted a stay on Wednesday afternoon, according to her supporters and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.
"WONDERFUL NEWS: A stay has been granted for Miriam. Her case has been reopened!," said a post on the Facebook page "Keep Miriam Home."
Miriam Martinez Lemus, 52, had been denied of stay of deportation Monday by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement. But Lemus did not board a plane for Guatemala as ordered — instead, she returned to her Stamford home with her husband and daughters.
"Miriam feared being deported today. A judge just awarded her a stay. Stamford and those of goodwill now have a little more to be thankful for," Himes (D-4th District) said via Twitter.
Himes and his wife, Mary, visited Lemus on Wednesday morning. "Unacceptable that our policies tear families and communities apart," Himes posted on Facebook. "Have we no compassion? Have we no sense of justice? Have we no decency?"
One supporter said on the "Keep Miriam Home" Facebook page: "Wonderful news on Thanksgiving!!!!!" And another said, "Wonderful news. Miriam--wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving together."
Because she was an immigration fugitive, Lemus could have been arrested and detained by ICE after she failed to leave the country as ordered on Monday afternoon.
A rally was held on Lemus's behalf Tuesday evening by family, friends, politicians and other supporters as she watched from her apartment window as supporters held a rally on her behalf on Tuesday evening.
Many held up signs on the lawn out front saying "Stop Deportation" and "Keep Families Together."
Participants in the rally included her husband, Raphael Benavides, along with Nury Chavarria of Norwalk and Luis Barrios of Derby, both of whom were granted stays of deportation earlier this year. Mayor David Martin and state Rep. William Tong also spoke in Lemus's support, as did a representative for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.
"I cannot leave my child. I cannot take her to Guatemala — there is no medicine for her. I must be by her side," Lemus said in explaining her decision to stay. Her 12-year-old daughter has Type 1 diabetes. The girl, a U.S. citizen and a Stamford Public Schools student, uses an insulin pump and needs her blood sugar closely monitored. Lemus also has a 10-year-old daughter.
Lemus came the U.S. at age 27 to escape political unrest and civil war in Guatemala. The longtime Stamford resident unsuccessfully filed for asylum. After years of complicated proceedings, Martinez received a stay of deportation last year, but when she reported to ICE in August for a renewal, the stay was denied and she was ordered deported, according to her supporters.
Her supporters have started a MoveOn.org petition calling for the deportation to be stopped.
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