LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Guatemalan father of a U.S. Marine assigned to duty in Afghanistan was deported after being denied a last-ditch effort to plead his case to stay in this country.
Juan Andres, 41, had fought deportation by presenting immigration officials with letters from friends, an employer, his wife and his five children, all of whom are U.S. citizens, including Lance Cpl. Aspar Andres.
His Marine son also made a public plea while on leave, asking immigration officials to show leniency for his father.
Juan Andres, who first came to the United States as a teenager, was deported Thursday after his request to appear before a judge was denied, Gail Montenegro, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Monday.
Andres was first deported to Guatemala in 1995 following a conviction on a federal charge of alien smuggling, then later illegally re-entered the U.S., she said.
"If an alien illegally re-enters the United States after having been deported, the prior removal order is reinstated, and the case is not subject to being reopened or reviewed," Montenegro said in an e-mail statement. "Therefore, Mr. Andres' request to appear before an immigration judge was denied."
Andres' attorney, Ron Russell of Louisville, said Monday the deportation was "very unfortunate."
"He's a very strong family man, someone who was respected in his community," Russell said in a phone interview. "... It was a case that warranted an exercise of discretion because his son is facing deployment to Afghanistan."
Russell said the deportation could be demoralizing for those in the armed services who have family members illegally in the U.S.
He said "it would not harm our country's interests" to allow Andres to remain in the U.S. while his son fights for it.
"I can't imagine the conflicting feelings that a soldier who is going to be deployed or is deployed in a combat situation wondering, 'Why is my country treating my family member in such a manner?'" he said.
Juan Andres worked on farms in Kentucky and elsewhere during his many years in this country.
Aspar Andres, who has been preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Juan Andres was arrested in early December when he accompanied a friend to an immigration office in Louisville to act as a translator. An official in the office suspected Andres was in the country illegally, and Andres was arrested.
Russell said he had hoped to persuade a judge not to reinstate Andres' removal order, or at least grant a stay of removal. To have been granted a "green card" or permanent residency, something his wife has, Andres would have been required to prove to the judge that he is of good moral character, has been in the country for 10 years and that deportation would create a hardship for his family.
Russell said he was confident he could have proven all those standards.
"His reputation was excellent," he said.
Montenegro said immigration officials followed one of their main missions — "to identify and remove convicted criminal aliens."
Associated Press Writer Janet Cappiello Blake contributed to this report from Louisville.
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