WASHINGTON-- Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a congressional leader on immigration reform, guest for the State of the Union address on Tuesday night is Gabino Sanchez, a South Carolina man facing deportation because he entered the country illegally when he was 15.
Gutierrez has been highly critical of President Barack Obama's deportation policies and has been championing Sanchez's fight to stay in the U.S.
The Congressman met Sanchez in November 2011 and pledged to help him fight deportation. The Congressman accompanied Sanchez to his first supervision appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Charleston, S.C. to ask that his deportation case be closed and attended two subsequent hearings (March 12, and May 15, 2012) before an immigration judge in Charlotte, North Carolina
In May 2012, Sanchez was granted a 12 month continuance in his case as he pursued relief from deportation, which under current immigration laws, allows him a permit to work legally and apply for a driver's license, which he has done. This month, Sanchez was granted an additional month to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the special deportation relief process set up by the Obama Administration for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Representative Gutierrez sees the deportation case against Sanchez as a test of the President's deportation policies, and especially the guidelines, announced by President Obama in 2011, that are supposed to prioritize deportations of immigrants who have committed serious crimes like rape and murder and apply "prosecutorial discretion" to close deportation cases against immigrants with deep ties to the United States, U.S. citizen children, and no significant criminal history.