Homeland Security grants a stay as Wu works on appeal
The Diaz family last week was given the gift of time.
Three members of the close-knit Beaverton family were not forced to board a plane late Friday night and return to their native Guatemala.
Hours before Irma Diaz and her two oldest children Luis Jr., 21, and Monica, 19, were scheduled to head to Portland International Airport, their immigration attorney informed them that they would be able to temporarily remain in the United States.
'I am very happy, very content and very emotional right now,' said an overwhelmed Luis Diaz Sr., Irma's husband. 'If I continue talking, I will start to cry.
'I've been trying to stay strong for my family, but the past couple hours have been difficult. I had really started to lose hope the closer it was getting. The news we received today makes me feel alive again.'
Irma likens her happiness upon hearing the news as similar to the kind of joy that she would feel following a religious experience.
'I feel more than happy,' she said. 'I feel as if I had met God.'
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted the Beaverton family the extension, staying their deportation until Sunday, Sept. 10.
The action will grant additional time to allow U.S. Rep. David Wu and his staff to move a private bill through the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims.
Wu, a Hillsdale Democrat who represents Oregon's 1st Congressional District, is working to pass H.R. 5745, a private bill to postpone deportation of Irma, Luis Jr. and Monica.
The bill would allow them to remain in the United States until 60 days after the final decision is rendered on Luis Diaz Sr.'s political asylum application.
Luis Sr.'s political asylum and cancellation of removal claims are both on appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
'This extension was an administrative success,' said Jillian Schoene, spokeswoman for Wu. 'It will give us more time to continue to push our legislation through.
'We are doing the best we can to keep this family together - that is our biggest goal.'
Given a present
Timan Hasche, an immigration attorney representing the family, was pleasantly surprised by Friday's news.
'This has been a stressful day,' Hasche said after getting the call from Washington D.C. at 3:30 p.m. 'I'm ecstatic - it's like I've been given a Christmas present in July.'
Upon hearing the news, Hasche planned an impromptu celebration in the Portland office of Parker, Bush and Lane complete with bottles of sparkling wine and cider.
The Diaz family arrived ready to make final preparations for their trip to learn that they instead had been granted more time to remain in the United States.
Luis Jr. spent the day running errands, closing his bank account and quitting his two jobs while his mother and Monica packed belongings into luggage they would take with them to Guatemala.
'This is the happiest I've been since all this has happened,' Luis Jr. said after hearing the news. 'It's like I have two more months of freedom to be with my girlfriend.'
While his mother and sister took turns calling friends and other supporters, Luis Jr. sat close to his girlfriend Britany Stott, holding her hand and taking everything in.
Luis Sr. looked on and talked about the strain that his children have been under in the past month.
'I just don't want to go on living like this,' Luis Sr. said. 'My son has plans, but he can't work toward them with this going on.
'My daughter wants to continue her studies, but this whole thing does not allow her to concentrate on them. This process is something that is not permitting them to continue on with their dreams. This situation does not allow my kids and my family to live a normal life - a life where we are secure.'
Joy to the home
Despite the uncertainty that continues to cast a shadow over the family, Luis Sr. said he was grateful for the additional time that his family has been given.
'I am just extremely happy with what we have been able to accomplish,' he said.
Luis Sr. is also grateful to his attorneys, the community and government officials that have taken action for his family.
Both he and his wife Irma have much they would like to say to Wu in particular.
'I am very happy with David Wu and with his willingness to help in our case,' Luis Sr. said. 'What he has been able to do for our family, I will never forget.
'I will never forget the name David Wu. I hope one day to be able to meet him personally.'
A tearful and relieved Irma agreed.
'I just think that saying 'thank you' to him is not sufficient,' Irma said. 'I feel more.
'I don't know how to express myself to him. I just want God to bless him. The joy he brought to my house today is indescribable and he does not know the extent of that joy.'