AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Nearly 100 friends and family members came out on Tuesday to support a teen who is facing deportation.
Jaime Leon Rivas is a high school senior just weeks from graduation that has been detained in Aurora since March 4 waiting to find out if he’ll be deported. Friends, family and teachers came out to help try and prevent that in a protest that also marked the teen’s birthday.READ MORE: Here Are 8 Of The Most Popular Fall Colors Viewing Destinations In Colorado
Rivas’ girlfriend Jenny Martinez says he came to America illegally from El Salvador as a child and was caught by authorities. As a minor without his parents, he was allowed to temporarily stay with relatives.
“He had just recently got his work permit so he thought everything was alright,” said Martinez. “Jaime was supposed to meet his immigration officer on March 4 for just another meeting. We did not expect what would happen next.”
What happened next was Jaime’s detainment and possible soon to be deportation.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities, in 2007 the roughly 12-year-old was granted a voluntary departure order but with no family in El Salvador, he stayed. That order has now turned into one of removal.
“Then like a bingo game the system just randomly pulled his number years later,” said a protestor.
It’s something his friends, family and teachers are calling an injustice in American immigration.READ MORE: 2 Colorado College Students Launch 'Price Medic' With Goal Of Helping Patients Find Affordable Procedures
“No one had complaints about him ever, he was just a leader,” said Martinez.
Local ICE officials told CBS4 they’re focused on effective immigration enforcement, and that Rivas has a previous record of gang involvement.
“He redeemed himself in the eyes of the justice system,” said Martinez.
Friends and family in Colorado call the teen a model citizen who deserves and has earned a future in America.
“I would like to see Jaime get released so he can attend his graduation, because all this that’s happening is really unfair,” said Martinez.
Martinez said that although Rivas admittedly came here illegally, he was only a child, now grown who considers himself an American.
“We all came from different places and we are all the same, we are all equal, no one is different,” said Martinez.
Rivas is working with an attorney but he’s not sure what will happen next. His family and girlfriend hope to have him at his high school graduation in May.