Paez family awaits decision from U.S. immigration officials

Elkhart's Paez family, long seeking a fix enabling them to remain in the United States, traveled to Chicago for a meeting with immigration authorities. They're originally from Colombia and overstayed their visas, putting them at risk for deportation.
Posted on March 14, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 14, 2013 at 5:56 p.m.

Armando Paez’s fate once again hangs in the balance.

He, his wife, Martha, and the couple’s three children traveled to Chicago Thursday, March 14, to meet with federal immigration officials and ask for a stay of the deportation orders they face. An answer is expected within 30 days, by April 13, said their Chicago lawyer, Maria Baldini-Potermin.

Paez, meanwhile, is left to ponder the future.

“There’s still the stress of not knowing what’s going to happen,” Baldini-Potermin said by telephone from Chicago.

The family remains hopeful federal lawmakers will approve broader immigration reform, she said, while the three children, perhaps, face brighter prospects. They’ve all applied for permission to remain in the United States under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals initiative, announced by President Obama last year and geared to younger undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents.

The Paezes came to Elkhart from their native Colombia in 1999, overstaying the visas that let them enter the country and ending up with deportation orders. They’ve appealed for permission to stay, and while immigration officials have granted them temporary reprieves over the years, they’ve yet to receive formal permission to stay permanently.

Same as Thursday, they met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcemment, or ICE, officials last year in Chicago and were subsequently granted the stays of deportation that now expire. The Paezes have sought the stays based, in part, on guidelines outlined by the Obama administration that direct immigration officials to focus their efforts on undocumented immigrants who’ve committed felonies or pose a national security risk.

Armando Paez is a host at Antonio’s Italian Restaurant in Elkhart, while wife Martha works in a factory. One daughter, Ana, is working in an Indianapolis school, another, Maria, is studying at an Indianapolis college while son Juan is a freshman at Elkhart Memorial High School.

In a statement read by Baldini-Potermin, the Paezes expressed thanks for the support they’ve received in Elkhart. “We are awaiting the decision of the Chicago ICE office,” said the statement.

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