AUSTIN (KXAN) — As crowds waited to hear President Obama speak at the Paramount Theater, another group was there trying to get their message heard.
The UT student group, University Leadership Initiative (ULI), stood on Congress Avenue alongside the Zumaya family.
On July 8, Erik Zumaya received a letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), instructing him to pack no more than 40 pounds in baggage and show up at the nearest ICE office on Friday, ready for deportation.
“A day without him would be, like struggles,” said Erik’s wife, Jessica.
Jessica and their six children are U.S. citizens.
Erik, now 33, came to the United States at age 17, looking for a better life. He’s lived in Austin ever since.
“I want to be here for my family, for my kids, for my wife,” said Erik. “I don’t picture a day without them.”
“He’s a low priority case, not a criminal, no criminal history at all,” says Sheridan Lagunas, with ULI.
Erik says that in 2010, he was stopped by the police and was reported to immigration officials by the Secure Communities program.
The family and supporters want President Obama to hear their message, and stop deporting low priority cases.
“If my husband was to be deported, we would follow him because we are a family and we have to stay united,” said Jessica.
But the outpouring of support they’ve received gives them hope, that they won’t have to fit their lives into a 40-pound bag.
The family has a petition online for supporters to sign, asking ICE to grant Erik prosecutorial discretion.