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Protests Against Pending Deportation in Harrisonburg

Courtesy of Jennifer Murch

On Monday more than 75 people in Harrisonburg rallied outside the Department of Homeland Security office on Neff Avenue against a pending deportation. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

Since his 2012 arrest for reportedly taking a piece of firewood he didn’t know he couldn’t take from a national forest, Cesar Lara Rios has had a number of stays of deportation. Last week, however, at his routine check-in, ICE detained him.

That’s according to Virginia Organizing, which says that Rios fears returning to Mexico due to violence there, and while in the U.S. has provided vital financial support to family members, including his mother. Yesterday she and others spoke to an on-site officer, but as Emmanuel Episcopal Church rector Daniel Robayo said, the group was told that the “routine” case has moved beyond the hands of the local office.

DANIEL ROBAYO: It’s not a good feeling to hear that this young man who was the sole supporter of his mother, who has health issues and who relies on him to be able to work and pay the rent and buy food, that he is going to be deported and that she's going to be left here in limbo. Oh, and did I mention she has a green card? This is harming people who belong here. Is it legal? Of course it's legal, right now. But it is a wrong law.

ICE did not issue a statement on the case by deadline yesterday, but an immigration attorney for Rios again filed for another stay of deportation. Meanwhile, he is in the Farmville Detention Center, and advocates say they are concerned that the Trump administration’s eagerness to deport the undocumented could very well affect even this low-priority case.

Christopher Clymer Kurtz was a freelance journalist for WMRA from 2015 - 2019.