HARTFORD -- Supporters of a Guatemalan man facing deportation took to the streets Thursday to protest and call on federal officials to allow him to stay in Connecticut while he continues efforts to become a U.S. citizen.
Joel Colindres came to the United States in 2004. He married his wife, Samantha Colindres in 2010. They now live in New Fairfield with their 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
There were dozens of supporters rallying around the family outside the federal courthouse and immigration offices in Hartford Thursday.
Joel’s mother-in-law and wife were in tears during the protest at the fear of the family being broken up.
“He's the best father, he's patient, he's kind, he's giving, he's the most amazing man who inspires me daily with his faith my life wouldn't be what it is without him,” Samantha said. She explained her husband was granted a stay last year, but in just the last few months he received little info from the immigration offices about his case.
“We went for May 25 for our check in hopes to hear the stay would be renewed, we were told to come back in two weeks they did not have the file,” she said. Samantha went on to say that when they returned two weeks later they were told again to come back.
It was on July 20 when they returned yet again and were issued a letter stating Joel must leave the country and return to Guatemala by August 17th. Samantha said this notice came despite their years of efforts to get him citizenship.
"We've been working on it for seven years since we got married and we've just experienced some battles you know and I don't think people understand that the process takes a really long time you have to wait for one waiver to be approved before you move onto the next,” Samantha said.
Samantha said this has been an exhaustive and emotional process, but she and her family are trying to remain hopeful.
“My daughter's an American citizen, she has rights and her children have rights. It's not right what's happening and we're just praying for a good outcome and what will be done will be right,” Joel’s mother-in-law, Julie Corsak, said.
Joel’s family said he has no criminal record.
** Associated Press contributed to this story **