CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - Two illegal immigrants facing deportation and living in South Carolina will get to stay in the United States, for now.
Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez spoke to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Charleston on Wednesday on behalf of the men, asking for their cases to be dismissed. Hispanic advocates rallied in front of the office during the meeting.
Gutierrez says one of the men, 27-year-old Gabino Sanchez, is a father of two American citizen children. He works as a landscaper and has no criminal history. Officers learned he was an illegal immigrant after pulling him over for a broken tail light.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced earlier this year that deportations would focus on immigrants with criminal records.
"It seems to me it makes a lot more sense to use the limited federal resources to go after people who really pose a threat to our security. They exist," Gutierrez said. "Put all our energy there."
The other man, Roger Martinez, of Ladson, was pulled over for speeding when officers learned he was here illegally.
"We are here to say, if you are going to have 12 million undocumented workers, the state of South Carolina should understand one thing, "said Gutierrez."You can arrest them, you cannot deport them. The only one who can deport someone from the United States of America is the federal government."
Supporters say in the near future the men will face a judge in North Carolina regarding their status and possible deportation.
Records show more than 1,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records have been deported from South Carolina under the Secure Communities Program.
The agency has said illegal immigrants posing no security risk, and are classified in a dozen or so categories may stay.
"The administration has said that their highest priority are criminals, drug dealers, gang bangers and people who rape and pillage and do harm," Gutierrez said. "Obviously, Gabino is not a threat. He has a wonderful 8-month old and a 6-year-old American citizen."
An Illinois congressman is in Charleston on Wednesday to urge immigration agents to close a deportation case against a landscaper who has two children who are U.S. citizens.
The agency announced this year deportations would focus on immigrants with criminal records and the South Carolina man has none. Gutierrez is one of two Illinois congressman seeking cases to test which immigrants will be allowed to stay.