A Colombian family facing deportation were given a hero’s welcome at a rally in Maryland Wednesday, after being released from detention by American authorities.
Jorge Steven Acuna, a senior at Montgomery College in Maryland, and his family were detained March 8 and scheduled for immediate deportation. This prompted a flurry of support from students and friends who came out to protest the deportation measures. The rally became a celebration after the family was released and granted a one-year reprieve by immigration officials.
Acuna and his family arrived in the United States in 2000, fleeing from violence in their native Colombia. The Acunas applied for political asylum twice, in 2005 and 2006, but both petitions were denied.
“I saw my own son manacled by the hands and feet, for no crime other than wanting to be in this country and study,” said Acuna’s father, in a tearful statement made at the rally.
Nancy Navarro, a member of Montgomery City Council, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying “this young man is a poster child, a role model for the potential of our youth”.
The case is a good sign for advocates of the “Dream Act” which would allow students like Acuna to be offered a six-year conditional path to citizenship granted upon completion of a college degree.