AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A 19-year-old Summit County man who has been fighting to stay in the United States is behind bars in Arizona and facing possible deportation.
Jaime Rivas was born in El Salvador but has lived in Colorado since he was 10.
Rivas though he was completely clear when it came to his immigration status last month when he and his then-fiancée Jenny traveled from their Silverthorne home to visit a relative at the Aurora ICE Processing Center.
Customs officers then took Rivas into custody without warning.
“What they did to Jaime was really an injustice. He didn’t do anything wrong. He just wanted to go see his brother, and things turned out bad,” said Jenny.
Jenny and Jaime had plans to get married on Oct. 10, which was the day he was detained. Instead, they were able to legally marry while Jaime was in detention.
Last April Rivas’ Summit County community rallied behind him in an effort to prevent deportation that would keep him from graduating from high school.
Deportation would also send him back to the El Salvadorian gang violence from which he fled as a boy, he claimed.
“Looking for a better future should not be illegal,” Rivas said in April.
Days after the rally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted Rivas a one year stay of removal.
“He’s a role model, a volunteer, he’s done a lot of work personally to turn his life around,” said Sophia Clark, spokeswoman for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
In a statement, ICE officials said Rivas’ application for deferred action for childhood arrivals was denied in July. They cited numerous arrests and convictions in Summit County, and alleged former affiliation with a violent street gang. That’s a claim Rivas’ supporters deny. They say the federal immigration system is broken.
“Until there is some change made either by Congress or by the president, people are going to continue in this impossible predicament,” Clark said.
According to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Rivas and his family are awaiting another court decision to see if he will be granted another stay of removal.