New York, NY – Trying to stop the impending deportation of longtime Teamsters member Eber Garcia Vasquez, his lawyer filed two emergency motions Sept. 1 to enable him to stay here with his family and job.
Garcia Vasquez, a Guatemalan refugee and member of Teamsters Local 813, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Aug. 24 when he went for a scheduled check-in there. His lawyer, Zachary Sanders, filed motions with the Board of Immigration Appeals for an emergency stay of removal and to reopen his immigration court proceedings, on the grounds that Garcia Vasquez is in the process of applying for legal resident status—a “green card”—and is eligible for it because his wife and three children are U.S. citizens.
“The law is clear that Eber is eligible to become a legal permanent resident, and it makes no sense to deport him as that application is being reviewed,” Sanders said in a statement released by Teamsters Joint Council 16. “He has a strong case to stay, and we hope that the Board of Immigration Appeals will consider Eber’s compelling circumstances.”
Garcia Vasquez, who came to U.S. in the 1980s after his mother and several relatives were murdered by the country’s U.S.-backed military dictatorship, applied for political asylum, but was rejected, and his appeal was denied in 2012. He applied for a green card afterwards, and Sanders says that represents a legal claim to stay here that was not present when his case was last heard—but that his application is pending does not automatically protect him from deportation.
He was put under an “order of supervision” after losing his appeal, which allowed him to stay in the U.S. as long as he checked in with ICE periodically. But that order has been revoked, an ICE spokesperson told LaborPress last week, and he will be kept in custody “pending removal from the United States.”
“Eber has spent most of his life in this country and has always played by the rules,” said Maria Chavez, Garcia Vasquez’s wife, said in the statement. “We are an American family. He is a wonderful father and husband and we depend on him. We need ICE to release him while he goes through the process to get his green card.”
Garcia Vasquez has worked for 26 years at Stericycle, a medical-waste hauler in Farmingdale, Long Island, and bought a house in Elmont 15 years ago. His wife, who is now in a wheelchair after having her ankle broken in a car crash, and children depend on his income.
“We are proud to call Eber a member of the Teamsters union, and we will not stand by while he is taken from his family,” said Joint Council 16 President George Miranda. “This story is playing out across the country, and these deportations are weakening our economy and our communities. The Teamsters stand with immigrant workers.”
The Teamsters and allies have organized supporters to make “hundreds of calls” to ICE demanding Garcia Vasquez’s release, the union said.
“Yet again, an immigrant with decades-long roots in this country and a viable path to legal permanent residency is detained by ICE in the most arbitrary manner,” said Angela Fernandez, head of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “This level of inhumanity needs to stop.”