Do you remember coming out to rally for Jesus Ruiz Diego in late 2012? We have exciting news to share about his case!
Many of you were among the 5000+ who signed the petition for Jesus’ release, rallied, and called your congressional representatives for him. Jesus was in detention for 3 months solely for returning to his family and life in the US after an unjust deportation. While our collective advocacy led to Jesus’ release in December 2012, the legal struggle continued. Jesus remained in an alternative detention program on an ankle monitor and was under continuous supervision by immigration authorities.
But now, we have big news. Jesus has now been completely released and is no longer under supervision. After more than one year of work to obtain legal status through DACA, Jesus was granted deferred action.
Jesus is a DREAMer who arrived in the US when he was 4-years-old and became the first in his family and neighborhood to graduate from high school. He was ordered deported in 1998, at age 11. This order was executed in 2008 and he was deported to Mexico. He quickly returned to the US, the only home he knew; he was then, again, picked up in September 2012 at his workplace, for an expedited deportation.
His prior deportation in 2008 made Jesus' DACA application complicated, as it appeared at first glance that he did not qualify because of the time he involuntarily spent outside the country. Many advocates and experts said it was hopeless and there was no chance in this case. I am excited to share that despite this hurdle, Jesus' DACA application was granted as of a few weeks ago, thanks to our strong community support, continuous legal strategizing, creative legal advocacy, and some dreaming.
As Jesus said, "14 months ago, this moment didn't feel possible. But then as I was sitting in a county jail under ICE custody I saw my story on the news. I saw people that I've never met before outside the San Francisco ICE building holding up signs that read "FREE JESUS." That was a feeling that I'll never forget because I went from feeling hopeless to feeling hopeful.
In the larger context, Jesus’ case demonstrates the importance of decriminalizing immigrants who have been previously deported and serves as a call to action to stop all deportations of our community members.
THANK YOU, to all of you who supported Jesus, who has become a dear friend and inspiration to me and all of us at Pangea Legal Services.
Background and Legal Context for This DACA Grant
Pangea Legal Services has been working hard to push for Jesus' DACA application to be approved so that he can join the many youth who now have temporary, renewable immigration relief (work authorization eligibility, SSN, and ID rights) through an executive order passed by the president in 2012.
Because of a 1998 order of deportation issued when Jesus was only 11 years old, he was picked up at his home and deported in 2008 as a young adult in his early 20s. He immediately returned to California, the only home he knew. In September 2012, ICE reinstated the order of deportation issued against Jesus, came to his work, and detained him. We submitted his DACA application to USCIS with significant documentation about Jesus' short, innocent, and casual absence in 2008. However, USCIS still requested further documentation of this and issued a Request for Evidence (RFE) requiring Jesus to address his deportation in 2008.
We took the strategy of moving the Immigration Court to reopen the prior deportation in order to render the USCIS RFE moot. Pangea filed a motion to reopen deportation proceedings for administrative closure and DACA processing for Jesus. We argued that when Jesus was a child, his family fell victim to ineffective assistance of counsel and for this reason he was ordered deported in 1998. We also argued that Jesus was eligible for DACA in every way, but for the 2008 deportation that was a result of the ineffective assistance of counsel rendering the 1998 order of deportation.
Our motion to reopen was granted. We then filed a copy of the judge’s order granting our motion to reopen with USCIS in our response to the RFE. With USCIS, we argued that Jesus’ 2008 absence by deportation was rendered moot and should be treated as if it did not occur. It worked.
USCIS approved Jesus’ DACA application, after over a year of legal strategizing, complex case reopening, rallies, petitions, congressional outreach, and 15 months after filing.
Jesus is pursuing college, continuing to be a role model for his siblings and community, and is a leader with PACT, an immigrant rights organization based in San Jose.
It has been quite a journey, and we have seen first-hand now, that dreams do come true.