New Fairfield family man crushed over possible deportation

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NEW FAIRFIELD -- Joel and Samantha Colindres say life is about the memories you make. They both met while working at a restaurant and quickly fell in love.

"My face gets red and like the butterflies in your stomach. Then that pit in your stomach when you see someone, holy cow," said Samantha, as she reminisced about the moment she first saw her now-husband, Joel. The two later got married and had two kids.

"It's amazing how much you can love kids," said Joel.

He considers himself lucky. He met Samantha barely speaking English. He came to the United States through a legal provisional waiver from Guatemala, looking for a better life.

He spent years filing paperwork in order to find that path to citizenship  but, because of filing errors, his efforts failed turning his dream to a nightmare.

"You have 30 days to pack up your stuff and leave the country," said Joel, as he remembered what he was told by immigration officers.

"'I was just screaming," said Samantha. "I really was just screaming and yelling. Like, how could you do this? We have two children, he has two children! That`s all I was saying. How could you do this? He`s a good man. He`s not a criminal."

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Immigration officials told Joel that on August 17 he would be deported back to Guatemala -- a place where he says memories aren't cherished, but feared.

"They put a gun on my head. They took all my money. And if don`t have no money they take your clothes. They took my wallet. They say 'don`t move because if you move you`re going to get killed'," said Joel, as he remembered the night he got robbed when he was only 16-years-old.

Joel and Samantha shared their story on social media hoping to raise awareness. Samantha says she spoke to several elected leaders pleading for help. She even organized a rally in Joel's honor Thursday morning at 10 a.m. near the ISAP Building at 330 Main Street in Hartford.

Samantha said she'll have to move the entire family to Guatemala as a last resort because the worst thing for the Colindres family are those memories you wish you could forget.

"I never see that coming. That one day I gotta say goodbye to my kids and tell them that I'm sorry daddy is not going to be here for Christmas or for your birthday next year. It's very emotional," said Joel.