Last week, Rena Rivas was seven hours away from being deported when Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) intervened and called an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official to halt his removal. A week later on Monday evening, a final decision came in: Rivas had been granted a one-year deportation reprieve based on humanitarian grounds. He no longer has to stay in the ICE detention center where he has stayed for the past two months.
In 2010, ICE agents targeted his coworker who has a criminal conviction, but Rivas was also deported. Rivas was then charged with an illegal re-entry felony for trying to see his family. Released on a prayer and a plea, Rivas now has to wear an ankle-monitor and take drug tests.
A somber effect of family reunification, illegal re-entry for aliens has remained the top reason for deportation proceedings in the past three years. Of the daily 1,400 deported immigrants, Rivas remains a heartwarming yet rare case in which a public figure had come out to stop his return to Mexico. The happy tale ends there however as Rivas will still be deported in one year.
If passed, the Senate immigration bill could stop his deportation countdown since deportees without serious records would be allowed to return to the United States. The contentious measure could have far-reaching implications like potentially ending dangerous border crossings for migrants who are trying to reunite with their families. The House immigration bill will be released in June, but it also seeks to stop deportations of people like Rivas.