Legislation & Lobbying

Reprieve for Star Florida Student in Deportation Case

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A special bill is being pursued in the U.S. Senate to help a star Miami area student facing deportation with his family as illegal immigrants.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) filed a bill Monday to help Juan Gomez, a popular high school football player and star student who is now attending an honors college program, avoid deportation, reports the Miami Herald (reg. req.). While it is by no means certain that the bill will pass, the legislation likely will give Gomez and his brother, Alex, a reprieve until 2009 before they are deported, the newspaper reports. Ordinarily such a bill halts deportation proceedings during the current legislative term, which ends in 2009. In the meantime, the family’s lawyer can continue to seek a reversal of the deportation order.

As discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, the two brothers and their parents may have a good chance of persuading the government to reopen the family’s asylum petition. That is because relatives have been killed in their native Colombia since it was denied. The two brothers were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were toddlers, and their plight has prompted a lobbying effort by friends and well-wishers, as detailed in another ABAJournal.com post.

Ana Navarro, a Republican lobbyist who has been working with U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart (R-Miami) on the brothers’ behalf, reportedly got Dodd involved—somewhat by happenstance. Advocates for the family had hoped to interest a senator in their cause, and Navarro knew several Democrats would be staying recently at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Cables, which her boyfriend owns, reports the Herald.

“I asked Lincoln, ‘What do you think about me pitching this to any senator who walks through the door?’ and he said, ‘Run with it, Ana,’ ” Navarro recounts.

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