Featured Stories

Snafu with Mexico keeps Diaz family on U.S. soil

by: Jonathan House, VOLUNTEER — Monica Diaz translates for ESL students at Elmonica Elementary School on bus boarding procedure.

An unforeseen glitch allowed the Diaz family to remain together in the United States until Oct. 10.

Irma Diaz and her two oldest children - Luis Jr., 21, and Monica, 19 - were scheduled to board a plane late Sunday night and return to their native Guatemala after efforts to stay their deportation fell through.

But the family received word from their immigration attorneys Friday that the Mexican government would not allow Irma, Luis Jr. and Monica to enter the country on their way to Guatemala.

'It's our understanding that because their plane tickets had them landing and changing planes in Mexico, they needed permission from the Mexican government,' said Sherilyn Waxler, one of the family's immigration attorneys. 'Without that permission, Mexico won't let them in.

'Because of this unexpected hiccup, we realized that they could not leave the country.'

In order to allow the family to either resolve the issue of gaining permission to enter Mexico or purchase other tickets that would take them on an alternate route to Guatemala, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave the Beaverton family another 30-day extension to remain in the United States.

'At this point, we do not anticipate any other extensions,' Waxler said. 'I think this is the end of the road.

'We're kind of at a loss, unless top ICE officials are willing to exercise their prosecutorial discretion to stay deportation proceedings.'

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already provided the family with two extensions 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.

Although a subcommittee hearing has not been scheduled for the private bill, the chairman and ranking member of the group have taken an interest in the Diaz family's plight.

In a Sept. 6 letter to Julie Myers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Elizabeth Godfrey of the Office of Detention and Removal Operations, Wu asked for clarification before any further agency action to deport the family.

'Chairman John Hostettler and Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee have informed me that they are further investigating the Diaz case and have asked for the 'A-files' for Irma Diaz, Luis Diaz, Jr. and Monica Diaz,' Wu wrote. 'It is the understanding of all the members of Congress involved that this action will stay the deportation proceedings.

'If our understanding is incorrect, please inform me in writing.'

Requests for a written response were not available as of press time.

'We have done all we can in the U.S. House,' said Jillian Schoene, Wu's spokeswoman.

Now the future of the close-knit Diaz family is in the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

'There's nothing more we can really do apart from hope that immigration laws change and hope that ICE's opinion can be swayed to use its prosecutorial discretion,' Waxler said. 'Our office and the family haven't entirely given up hope.'

Despite the uncertainty that continues to cast a shadow over the family, the Diazes continue to make the most of their time together and work to make sure that Jennifer, their youngest daughter and sibling, is surrounded by the love and support of the adults in her family.

'At the moment, we're OK because we're all together,' Monica Diaz said Tuesday night. 'We're staying strong and waiting for good news.'