A 19 year-old Guatemalan who has resided in the United States since he was three years old hopes to get a reprieve from deportation one year after the government first tried to send him back to his country of origin. Bernard Pastor, who lives in the Cincinnati area, is requesting an extension from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Detroit. He obtained a one-year deferral from ICE last year, which expires on December 17. He has amassed support from friends, fellow students, clergy, and immigration advocates, who maintain that deporting him "would serve no useful purpose," according to as Associated Press report.
Pastor's parents brought him to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was three years old in order to escape religious persecution by the military regime then in power. Although Pastor's uncle reportedly obtained legal asylum, his parents did not. They nevertheless chose to stay in the U.S. By all accounts, Pastor is an all-American teenager. He became an honors student, a soccer star, and the homecoming king of his high school. He graduated among the top 5 students of his high school class in 2010.
A fender bender in Springdale on November 17, 2010, when Pastor could not produce a driver's license, brought him to the attention of police, and then ICE got involved. Pastor spent a month in jail, during which time an attorney and many friends and supporters advocated for him. ICE agreed to a one-year extension for Pastor to stay in the country and released him from jail on December 17 of last year.
Pastor's supporters and advocates widely publicized his case through the media and the internet. Facebook pages and a Change.org petition pleaded his case. Pastor was at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on December 18, the day after his release, to support the DREAM Act in the Senate. The DREAM Act would have given him a path to legal immigration status if he attended college. While the bill passed the House of Representatives, it failed in the Senate.