Undocumented immigrant activist facing deportation may be allowed to stay

Undocumented immgrant activist facing deportation may be allowed to stay

An undocumented immigrant facing deportation for entering the country illegally may be allowed to stay.

A federal judge agreed to reduce the felony charge against Martin Esquivel-Herenandez to a misdemeanor.

“I thought it was a great day for the family,” said Guillermo Perez, president of the Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. “I thought it was a great day for the Latino community and immigrant community here in Pittsburgh.”

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Esquivel-Herenandez came to Pittsburgh after escaping violence in Mexico. He has already been deported several times, and was most recently arrested this past spring. He and his wife have three children, including a 4-year-old who is a U.S. citizen.

“They're still separated from Martin,” Perez said. “It's a very emotional thing to see children having to see their father treated like a criminal.”

Nobody denies that Esquivel-Herenandez broke the law, but supporters say he did it for his family. Many rallied around him with public protests. They believe he’s an important asset to the Brookline and Beechview communities.

“What I would say to people who say that Martin deserved to be a felon, that he deserved to be deported, deserves to be separated from his family? I guess what I would say is, you don't know Martin,” Perez said.

U.S. Customs and Immigration will decide next year whether or not to deport Esquivel-Herenandez again. He remains in prison.