AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin father who was facing deportation, will get to stay in the United States. He was scheduled to report for deportation on Friday, but that changed with a phone call,
An attorney for Erik Zumaya tells KXAN she received a call on Friday from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), granting Zumaya a stay of removal by means of prosecutorial discretion.
Earlier this week, Zumaya received a letter from ICE, instructing him to pack a bag weighing no more than 40 pounds, and to be ready for deportation Friday. A previous effort to be granted prosecutorial discretion from ICE had been denied.
“Very sad and emotional,” said Erik’s wife, Jessica Zumaya. “Because today was the day he had to report to ICE.”
Now, they have a life, in America, to look forward too.
“We are so happy,” said Erik. “We have no words to explain how we feel right now.”
In 2010, Erik was reported to immigration officials after a minor traffic violation, through ICE’s Secure Communities program.
“Erik’s case is incredibly compelling, in that he’s been in the United States since he was in 17,” said his attorney C.M Boston Cote. “He’s raising six children with a United States spouse.”
Cote says that one of his children has special needs and requires continuous medical attention. The daughter requires a large system of support, including from her father.
Erik and Jessica were in tears when they heard his stay of removal was granted.
“After we received that call, it’s like the sun came out for us,” said Erik.
While Erik’s been granted a stay of removal, he’ll have to reapply in a year. In the meantime, he’s eligible for work authorization, a social security number and a driver license.
“I’ve never seen this happen before. Normally you only get one bite at the apple and we were truly trying to find a way that he could, as a last effort, sway immigration,” said Cote. “But this is the first time I’ve seen immigration actually change the way they consider a case.”
And the Zumaya’s are grateful.
“Finally, we get justice,” said Erik.
ICE would not comment on Erik’s case, but did tell us in some cases, people have extenuating circumstances that are taken into consideration, such as family or health.