HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii coffee farmer who entered the United States illegally from Mexico nearly three decades ago has been granted a 30-day reprieve on a deportation order.
Andres Magana Ortiz, 43, must return to the country he left at 15 if efforts to halt his deportation aren't successful, said his lawyer, James Stanton.
Magana Ortiz was ordered to have a bag packed and turn himself to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security office in Honolulu Thursday morning.
"He's agreed to leave voluntarily at his own expense," Stanton said after they met with immigration officials for several hours. "They understand that we're working on other channels to get a stay and they'll respect that if we get it. If are unable to get it, he understands that he'll go back to Mexico."
Magana Ortiz's case gained attention after a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge criticized the Trump administration's order to deport him. "President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the 'bad hombres,'" Judge Stephen Reinhardt said in an opinion issued last week. "The government's decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the 'good hombres' are not safe."
However, Reinhardt said the 9th Circuit lacked authority to block the deportation order.
"The last week was very stressful," Magana Ortiz said. "I have a little bit of relief."
He is hoping something can be worked out before his 30 days are up. Hawaii's congressional delegation intervened earlier this week with a letter to Homeland Security urging the deportation to be halted. They're also asking that his U.S. citizen wife's petition for his permanent residency be expedited.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said she spoke with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and asked him to exercise his discretionary authority to allow Magana Ortiz to stay in Hawaii.
"This morning, Mr. Ortiz faced the possibility of immediate deportation, leaving his wife and three children behind," U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said in a statement. "While today's 30-day reprieve is a positive step, it does not resolve the underlying issues. I'll continue to push other avenues to assist Mr. Ortiz and his family in their efforts to remain in the Kona community he has called home for nearly three decades."