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After nearly 20 years in Detroit, undocumented immigrant faces likely deportation

crowd at protest
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Mario Hernandez was informed earlier this week that the stay of removal that he applied for two weeks ago was denied and that he has two weeks before he is deported to Mexico.

A man from southwest Detroit has two weeks before he is deported back to Mexico after living in the city for almost 20 years. 

Mario Hernandez came to the U.S. as an adult without a visa in 1998. He has no criminal record, and his friends and supporters say he has made a positive impact in the community.

But it's unlikely Hernandez will be able to stay in the U.S. after his stay of removal request was denied by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals.

Mario, his wife, and their three daughters found out the news earlier this week. Marva De Armas, Hernandez’s immigration attorney, said the family isn’t sure what they will do next.

“He hadn’t had a plan because we were praying that this was going to come through,” De Armas said.

De Armas says they are looking at all the options that might allow Mario to stay. One of the few remaining options is getting Hernandez a visa given to certain crime victims. 

Hernandez’s house was broken into about a decade ago, which could become key in granting him temporary access to stay, according to De Armas.

“A U-visa is when you’re a victim of a qualifying crime. If there’s a police report and you help the police investigate the crime, you might be eligible. So we’re looking into that to see if maybe that’s an option,” she said.

But applying for the visa would require finding the police report, which was filed back in 2007. And it could take years to actually get through the visa application process. 

“Every year the U.S. grants about 10,000 of these U-visas, and everything after that is on a waiting list. You have to be on the waiting list for two years before you’re even processed,” De Amas said.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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