Glenwood resident faces deportation Wednesday
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Wednesday morning, 21-year-old Glenwood Springs resident Jose Mendoza Turbin will await deportation to El Salvador from the Grand Junction Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.
Turbin was denied asylum in November 2008 and received a letter from the Immigration Board of Appeals notifying him that he was to appear on Feb. 18 for deportation. He will most likely be held in a detention facility until he is deported.
A number of community members have voiced their support for Turbin, including many who have written letters to newspapers.
They argue that Turbin has not been given a fair chance and don’t understand why he is being deported.
“I think [ICE] is being lazy in targeting people who aren’t criminals at all,” said Annie Brooks, one of Turbin’s former teachers at Glenwood Springs High School. “He is not a criminal, not into drugs, and has committed no crimes. And at the other end he is a model citizen of our community.”
Turbin fled his native country of El Salvador in December 2004 to escape recruitment from gangs, according to his lawyer, Shelley Wittevrongel. Shortly after he arrived in the United States, Turbin was detained by ICE officers and then applied for asylum in the United States. His application was denied.
According to Wittevrongel, the immigration judge cited Turbin as being “credible” in his reasons for seeking asylum; however, the judge did not agree that Turbin’s case was appropriate to grant asylum. Turbin appealed the denial of his asylum case, which was also denied, in November 2008.
Now, facing deportation, Turbin is scared that he will have to leave the community that has embraced him and his dream of becoming a nurse.
“I’m afraid,” Turbin said Monday. “I’m scared to go back and leave my dream. That scares me.”
But he does plan to show up with his bags packed to go if he has to, he said.
“I’ll just go back because I tried to do everything legal here,” he said. “If they decide I can’t stay here, you know, I have to.”
Turbin’s case and the support he has received from many in the community is similar in some ways to Henry Akim Gama.
Gama fled his native Zimbabwe to escape political persecution in 2000. He spent more than eight months in an Aurora detention center before his immigration case was reopened by a judge in May 2008. At his next court date Gama will get to present his case for asylum in the United States.
According to ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok, Turbin is being deported because he entered the country illegally, was denied asylum by a federal immigration judge and ordered deported in November.
“This is immigration law we are carrying out,” Rusnok said. “This order is from a federal judge, and there is no singling out or anything like that.”
Wittevrongel has handled Turbin’s case since the beginning. She said that she has filed a motion to reopen an appeal on Turbin’s behalf in light of some new facts and information. Wittevrongel would not comment on the specifics of the case as it remains in litigation. However, she said that the Immigration Board of Appeals can grant Turbin a stay of removal or a stay of deportation, but that those options are not certain.
Turbin applied for a stay of removal based on the argument that he would have, and already has had, a significant impact on the community.
Wittevrongel said Congress has given Immigration and Customs Enforcement the power to grant a stay of removal in cases related to urgent humanitarian reasons, or if the stay of removal would result in a significant public benefit.
That application was denied, according to Wittevrongel, on the basis of the asylum case alone. Turbin requested a second look at his application for stay of removal with comments from several of his Glenwood High teachers supporting his claim of public benefit. However, Turbin has not received a response.
“We have not had any response on his request to examine the stay of removal based on whether or not if it would result in a significant public benefit,” Wittevrongel said.
Turbin enrolled at Glenwood Springs High School after arriving in Colorado with only about a fifth-grade education, according to ELL teacher Ginny Badger. He later graduated, received scholarships through the Pre-Collegiate Program through the Roaring Fork School District, and is in his first year of classes at Colorado Mountain College pursuing a nursing degree.
“This is a bright young man,” Badger said. “What he lacks in ability he makes up for in hard work.”
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