Federal authorities will deport a Carlsbad man who through his attorney had asked to be allowed to stay in the U.S. despite an order of deportation from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Gaston Cazares moved to San Diego illegally when he was 17 and has been here for nearly 30 years. His two children are U.S. citizens. He is a Mexican national who checked in annually with immigration officials.
That routine changed when President Donald Trump was elected. Under the new administration's policies and expanded criteria for deportation, ICE officials told Cazares he was going to be deported.
“This is my home,” Cazares told NBC 7 before his immigration meeting Thursday morning.
Supporters gathered outside of the federal courthouse downtown and held signs saying “#WeAreAllGaston.”
“I can’t imagine the man who drove me to school every day not see me graduate,” his daughter Yahaira Cazares said.
Cazares does not have a criminal record outside of immigration offenses and has checked in annually with ICE since 2012.
“If I go to Mexico I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know how the system is,” he said.
Before noon, supporters learned that federal officials had decided to deport Cazares.
He had already said his goodbyes to friends and family before the meeting.
Now, he could be removed from the U.S. as early as this evening.
Cazares was subject to a reinstatement provision because he was involved in an expedited removal almost 20 years at the border, according to his attorney Nicole Leon.
Under the law, Cazares was subject to immediate deportation without a hearing. Leon said ICE could make an exception in this case and allow her client to stay here with his family.
“What we’re asking is for them to exercise their discretion,” Leon said before the immigration meeting.
Cazares’ wife, teenage daughter and his son with autism live in Carlsbad. He is most concerned about how his 15-year-old son will handle the change.
“He’s going to suffer the separation of the family,” Cazares said.
“If it’s a big change for me it’s going to be worse for my son," he said.
Leon said Cazares was granted a stay in early 2012. He was required to check in annually and each year his stay was renewed.
“This year with the change in the administration and the policies, ICE has said they would not extend the stay any longer,” Leon said.
While Former President Barack Obama's administration targeted immigrants with felony convictions or serious misdemeanor charges, the Trump's administration is taking on a different, broader approach.