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ICE temporarily releases undocumented immigrant for daughter’s graduation

DENVER — Arturo Hernandez Garcia was granted a brief reprieve from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention late Tuesday night.

Jennifer Piper of the American Friends Service Committee said he will be able to attend his daughter’s high school graduation May 15.

Hernandez Garcia was the first to seek sanctuary in a Colorado church while fighting deportation. He was detained Wednesday because of a final order of removal issued by a judge.

Agents found Hernandez outside his workplace and took him into custody, to the surprise of his family and activists.

Hernandez Garcia entered the U.S. from Mexico at El Paso, Texas, in 2003 on a six-month visitor visa. ICE said it first encountered him after he was arrested in March 2010 for a fight at work.

In a statement, Hernandez Garcia’s lawyer, Laura Lichter, maintained her client has viable legal options to remain in the U.S.

After reviewing the underlying deportation order, Hernandez Garcia’s legal team at Lichter Immigration identified what they characterized as “missed opportunities” with the permanent residency process.

“We are grateful that Mr. Hernandez has been granted a brief reprieve so he can attend his daughter’s high school graduation, as well as allow us time to ask an appeals court to revisit his case,” Lichter said in a statement.

“Mr. Hernandez and his family have been pursing legal status in the United States for nearly a quarter of a century — if he were deported, it would be another decade before he would be able to realize that dream.”

“I want to thank my lawyer, Congressman (Ed) Perlmutter and Senator (Michale) Bennet for their efforts on my behalf,” Hernandez Garcia said in a statement. “I am so grateful to all of the community members who prayed and demonstrated for me.

“I felt stronger as I left the ICE office in Centennial because I saw my family and community standing outside. I want to thank most of all my wife and daughters who have fought so hard to keep our family together.”

Lichter said the brief reprieve for his daughter’s graduation allows time for an appeal.