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Paez family receives reprieve on deportation to Colombia

Armando Paez and his family, wrangling with U.S. immigration officials for years for permission to remain in the country, have received another one-year stay of orders of deportation.
Posted on April 19, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on April 19, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.

An Elkhart family worried about being deported to Colombia once again has a reprieve, at least for a year.

Armando Paez and his family, who came to Elkhart in 1999, recently received word from U.S. immigration authorities that their request for a stay of deportation back to their native country has been accepted, Paul Cataldo said Friday April 19. Cataldo, owner of Antonio’s Italian Restaurant in Elkhart, is Armando Paez’s boss and has been vocal on behalf of his employee’s efforts to secure permission to stay in the country.

“I think they’re relieved. The burden’s been taken off them for another year,” said Cataldo. Neither the Paezes nor their lawyer could be immediately reached for comment.

The decision earlier this month notwithstanding, the Paezes hardly have a long-term fix. And their case is hardly closed. “Another year, they’ll have to go through this all over again. They’ll have to return to Chicago to do the same thing all over again,” said Cataldo.

Paez, his wife and their three children, originally from Colombia, entered the country legally in 1999, with visas. However, they overstayed the visas and authorities subsequently ordered them deported.

They’ve sought permission to remain, but while officials have granted them temporary permission to stay as the appeals process unfolds, the Paezes have yet to receive any sort of final, definitive resolution in their case. Most recently, they traveled to Chicago on March 14 to meet with officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, or ICE, precipitating the recent decision staying deportation another year.

Meanwhile, many in the community have rallied around the family, expressing support for their efforts and lauding their presence here. Armando Paez is a host at Antonio’s and his wife works at an area seatbelt factory. The couple’s two older daughters, Ana and Maria, are studying at college in Indianapolis while their son, Juan, is a freshman at Elkhart Memorial High School.

Cataldo said the family hopes for some broader fix to the nation’s immigration system, providing some sort of long-term remedy to their situation. The three younger Paezes have applied for permission to remain per the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, geared to undocumented immigrants brought here as children. That option doesn’t exist for the elder Paezes.

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