Mom freed from immigration hold
Mother’s Day is extra sweet for Norma Galindo Gonzales.
The Basalt woman jailed earlier this month by federal immigration authorities and threatened with deportation was freed on Friday night and granted a one-year stay of deportation proceedings.
Gonzales, 39, arrived home to her family around 11 p.m. Friday following her release from the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Aurora, according to Ted Hess, Gonzales’ attorney in Glenwood Springs.
Hess said his office recently had applied for a one-year stay of deportation. Word of Gonzales’ release spread through Facebook on Saturday, while Carbondale resident Edgar Niebla, a board member of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, said he learned the news in a phone call Friday night.
“We’re just thankful she’s going to be home with her family for Mother’s Day,” Niebla said.
Shawn Neudauer, regional spokesman for ICE, issued a statement Saturday confirming Gonzales’ release.
Gonzales’ arrest by ICE agents at her home May 1 — Hess said the agents were acting on a deportation order issued in 2008 — drew the attention of numerous immigrant rights groups and support for her cause from Roaring Fork Valley residents.
Gonzales is the mother of two boys, both born in the United States and legal residents. She does not have legal status.
Gonzales had lived in the United States 14 years before a 2005 arrest in Glenwood Springs when she presented false documentation toward applying for a Colorado identification card. Gonzales’ husband retained Hess in her legal defense and she pleaded guilty to possession of personal identifying information, a misdemeanor, according to Hess.
Gonzales served a year of unsupervised probation, the attorney said.
“She made a mistake,” Hess said.
The arrest put Gonzales on the radar of immigration authorities who ordered her deportation in October 2008.
“There are roughly 500,000 standing deportation orders in the United States, and I’m sure you could probably find four-year-old warrants in Mesa County in which the arrestee has not been arrested,” he said.
Supporters pointed to Gonzales’ family success stories: One of her sons, Hector, 18, was awarded the prestigious Daniels Fund Scholarship and has been admitted to Duke University. He’s slated to graduate next month from Basalt High School.
Hess said the next step for Gonzales will be a formal pleading to attorneys with the Department of Homeland Security, seeking to re-open her deportation case. The attorney said he likes his client’s chances of staying in the United States.
“It seems to me if they’re granting her a one-year stay of removal based on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, then the same reasoning would apply to re-opening her deportation case for the purpose of closing it,” Hess said.