Local News

Rally held to stop deportation of Durham teen

Posted July 19, 2011 6:10 p.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2011 10:35 p.m. EDT

— A statewide Latino advocacy group and members of the community rallied Tuesday afternoon to stop the deportation of a Durham teen.

Fausto Palma-Guifarro, 18, said he didn't know he was illegal until he was detained by immigration officials on June 8 – the day before his graduation from Jordan High School in Durham. 

Federal agents had arrived at his apartment looking for someone else, but in the process asked for identification from everyone there. They found out that Palma-Guifarro had a deportation order against him. 

The teen was held at the ICE detention center in Cary, but was released and allowed to attend his graduation because of good behavior and his lack of a criminal record.

On Thursday, Palma-Guifarro will report to the ICE office in Charlotte, where he could be sent back to Honduras or receive a deferred action. 

Palma-Guifarro said he came to the United States when he was 12 to reunite with his mother who he had not seen since he was 6 years old and to escape gang violence. Palma-Guifarro's mother had permission to live and work in Durham. 

The deportation order stems from a 2004 incident where immigration officials stopped Palma-Guifarro and his older brother as they tried to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. Palma-Guifarro said an immigration judge gave them an order to attend court, but they did not attend because a notary advised his mother against it. 

"He was as much a victim as anything else," Palma-Guifarro's attorney Steve Monks said. "(That advice) caused him to lose some of his available remedies that we're seeking to redress now." 

Advocacy group El Pueblo and others gathered at Jordan High School, 6806 Garret Road in Durham, on Tuesday evening in support of Palma-Guifarro's efforts to remain in the country.

Palma-Guifarro said he feels like Durham is his home and said he wants to stay there with his mother. 

"The only thing I'm thinking about is my mom, because that's the only thing I got here. I don't have nobody else in Honduras," he said. 

The group said Palma-Guifarro is one of thousands of undocumented students in the country who would qualify for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, an immigration reform proposal that would allow foreign-born young people in the U.S. illegally to attain citizenship.

"Citizenship is the long-term goal for all immigrants that come to this country," Monks said. "He wants to be here legally. He certainly doesn't want to be here illegally. He came here without any choice of his own, as a 12-year-old." 

Palma -Guifarro says he wants to go to college and become a pediatrician.