Undocumented Grad's Future Hangs in the Balance

Jesus Cruz and his supporters continue to fight for him to remain in the U.S.

OUTSIDE ATLANTA, GA -- Jesus Cruz found a small bit of relief last month when an immigration judge in Atlanta granted the undocumented graduate of Mableton’s Pebblebrook High another two months in the United States. “I don’t want to go to Mexico because this is my home,” Cruz told Patch in May.

Cruz is facing deportation because Cobb County Police arrested him in August 2011 for driving without a license, which he cannot obtain in Georgia as an undocumented resident.

Judge Madeline Garcia granted Cruz his second two-month extension on his deportation hearing to see if the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will exercise prosecutorial discretion, which is the agency’s authority to decide how to pursue individual cases.

Cruz’s fate hangs between two agencies. Cruz’s attorney, Julio Moreno, and his supporters hope ICE will use this authority to dismiss charges against Cruz and to allow him to stay in the U.S. on a work permit.

When the US and the Local Office Move in Separate Directions

Cruz and many other undocumented DREAM Act-eligible young people facing deportation are seeking refuge in “the Morton Memo,” a June 2011 directive. The memo suggested that ICE officials consider DREAM Act-eligible youth—non-criminal illegal immigrants who graduated from U.S. high schools and arrived in the United States as minors—a low priority when prosecuting or deporting aliens.

“If we were in a different city, this case probably would have already been closed.”

The memo followed intense criticism from many Latino groups displeased with the increase in deportations in 2010 (In 2010, the Obama administration deported 393,000 people, with an overall record far exceeding those deported during George W. Bush's presidency.) President Barack Obama said in October 2011 that deportation cases would be heard on a case-by-case basis and that non-criminal or "low-priority" undocumented residents would be eligible for permanent residency and work permits.

Meanwhile, the state of Georgia cracked down on illegal immigration when it passed an immigration enforcement law last year. Effective July 1, 2011, the law, HB 87, grants police the right to demand immigration documentation from suspects to determine whether they are undocumented. It also creates stricter punishments for people who employ, harbor or transport undocumented people—and trouble for young people such as Cruz.

Cruz’s Dream

Cruz is counting on supporters who have written letters on his behalf to federal officials like Morton and to Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Moreno said the local ICE office declined his request to allow Cruz to stay. No specific reasons for the declined request were given, Moreno told Patch.

“The local field office in Atlanta is not following that order (of the Morton Memo),” Moreno said. “If we were in a different city, this case probably would have already been closed.”

Cruz’s next and final deportation hearing will be held July 16. If ICE does not step in on Cruz’s behalf, the judge could issue a removal order. Cruz would have 30 days to appeal the order, and the appeal process could take several months unless the judge issues a final removal order, Moreno says.

At that point, the local ICE office would decide whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion and possibly allow Cruz to stay in the U.S. for a limited period of time under an “order of supervision,” similar to a work permit.

“Hopefully, the DREAM Act is approved at some point next year and we can try to reopen the case somehow and get Jesus to stay here legally, which is his goal,” Moreno said.

Weeks of Waiting

After his August 2011 arrest for driving without a license, Cruz was transferred to Stewart Detention Center, placed under an ICE hold and released when his family posted his $7,500 bond. He has lived in the United States since he was 12, when his mother brought him here from Mexico.

Cruz now lives in Mableton, Georgia with his sister. His mother lives in L.A. He wants to remain in the U.S. and go to college to eventually become an immigration attorney.

Supporters of Cruz gathered at Pebblebrook in May to hold a vigil and bring awareness to his case.

“I have now turned to my community and am counting on their support to be able to stay,” Cruz stated in a release from the Dream Activist Network of Georgia.

If he is deported to Mexico, Cruz said, “I’m going back to a place I don’t even know.”

You can find more articles from this ongoing series, “Dispatches: The Changing American Dream” from across the country at The Huffington Post.

Pam J June 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Pam J June 04, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Eric, you are stating all of the things that illegal immigrants CAN'T get because of their status. That is the point. Go home, come back legally, and then you can start to get some benefits. And this kid is getting a scholarship. There are a lot of American citizens who can't get scholarships or financial aid.
CL Pettit June 04, 2012 at 02:14 PM
When are people going to realize that US federal law – the “REAL ID” Act -- is going into effect this year and ALL undocumented people are losing their drivers licenses – in all states. Millions of people are being stripped of drivers licenses that they may have had for years and years. And most have no choice but to drive. They have to work. Police are targeting Latinos, “running their tags”, and hauling them off to court It happened to a friend of mine. Just 8 days after his license expired he was racially profiled. In the state of Delaware. In Virginia, I had a confrontation with a police officer who I watched pull over a Latino for no reason other than he saw a Latino driver and “ran the tags”. The cop tried to lie to me for the reason he pulled him over. Eventually he said” I’m going to go back to just doing my job” Under the Bush Administration, and the Republicans, this country – with REAL ID Act of 2006 - took all the illegals and made them more illegal. And all states have to comply. Only New Mexico and Washington State have tried to hold out – but will implement the federal rules in 2013. My friend in DE came here legally, put himself through graduate school, and now runs his own business to support his family. He is not a threat. But that is how our government views him.
Pam J June 04, 2012 at 02:33 PM
"Undocumented (illegal)" immigrants should not have driver's licenses to begin with. Like it or not, life is not fair. Because of the thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants here, the legal ones will sometimes have problems. Don't blame the police for that - blame the illegal immigrants.
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Are you serious? Tell you what. Come to Florida sometime, and I will show you what really goes on. I'm sure the groups of illegals (and not that PC 'undocumented' crap the MSM like to use) standing outside Home Depot and Lowes all pay taxes on that 'under the table' money they get. Then we'll go to Walmart where you can watch them pay for cart fulls of crap using food coupons. Want to take a guess where those came from? You can watch the cashier get frustrated because those illegals don;t speak English and cannot understand they have to pay what the food coupons don't cover. Then we're off into the city so you can watch the local news where an illegal raped and killed another legal citizen, or got busted for snorting cocaine by the bag full, or caused a car accident while driving drunk, unlicensed and uninsured, leaving the person they hit to fork out for all their own bills while the illegal runs and hides. Yeah, I believe you are 'A Real American', but one with their head in the sand, or still wearing your rose colored glasses. So yeah, little Hey-soos needs to go back home and do it the right way, since he and mommy have already sucked off the US teat for way too long. It's time to stand up and start fighting back against this invasion of our borders from people who are destroying this country from the inside, or have you noticed yet that the USA is turning into a third world country? I'll mow my own damned yard, thanks!
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 02:48 PM
And what are you doing while suggesting others work at those jobs? Hmm? Sitting on your fat ass while having an illegal cut your yard, making your house look pretty? I know one thing for certain; YOU, are NOT paying for my Interent and health care. I do that myself, being self employed, thanks. I also do my own yard work and all those other labor intensive activities most Americans like you do not want to do. It's called exercise, something the average obese drone refuses to do because their too fat and stuffing too much fast food into their pie holes as fast as they can while claiming disability, thus milking the system in their own way. I'm 40 and in shape because I do my own work, instead of succumbing to the lazy lifestyle afforded to you by the nanny state. I take back what I said about you being 'a real American'. You are 'A Real Collaborator', a Brown Shirt. Do the world a favor and go play 'ball in a cup' with all your illegal friends, vote for Obama one more time and waddle through the ice cream aisle at Walmart, Real Mariacan
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Good. It's about damned time we took back this country from the virals infecting it. Perhaps then the average fat citizen can get off his lazy ass and mow his own yard. Most people in this country could stand to drop 10 or 20 pounds anyway. It's sick what we've let ourselves because, while paying these vermin to do it for us. Just, sick!.
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 02:56 PM
@Pam, exactly! Scapegoating the men and women in uniform protecting us is wrong. I say there need to do more profiling to weed out the bad apples. If the legal mexicans in this country claim to love it as much as we do, and abhor the illegals who skirt the system, they shouldn't be so offended, especially if they have nothing to be afraid of. Any reason to complain, I guess.
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Suggestion: Stitch up your bleeding heart and cut your own yard before an illegal rapes and or kills someone you love.
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Most of this is Reagan's fault, granting them amnesty back in the day. Their relatives (which I understand are MANY) saw the free milk and hoped for the same. That's why they're here, waiting for their turn for a free ticket, while breaking just about every law known to man in the process. Some days I think renouncing my citizenship and asking for a free ride like these people do would be a better way to go. I've paid my taxes, at least I've earned it.
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Starving kids and no jobs. Say, don't we have that here now?
Ryan Capcoseve June 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Ever seen what happens to illegal immigrants in meh-hi-co? Beaten, jailed, humiliated and in some cases killed? We should apply their own laws to them, the illegals and watch how fast they run for the border. I don't believe illegals have Constitutional rights, therefore 'cruel and unusual' punishment doesn't apply. We'd simply be applying the law of their home county to them here. Sounds fair to me.
Michael Letterman June 04, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Get this America-hating, government teat sucking leech out of my country! Enough with the free handouts. I have been out of work for 6 years. NO I didn't go to college because I was addicted to paint thinner at the time. But these leeches are taking all our AMERICAN JOBS. Another thing.........they are part of a vast Mexico-Panamanian conspiracy to take back theere land of Aztlan (which...comprises of Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, and all the other states with Spanish names). We cannot afford for this piece of human excrement to get an education on our dime. Because if he gets educated then he will fight back and know how to write good. When they learn how to write good and learn history they will get on TV and the lamestream media will make their case for them and then we are all screwed and this country will be a 3rd world country like Madagascar. All I can say is get them the heck out of MY COUNTRY THAT MY ANCESTORS CAME TO!
Pam J June 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Well, you are correct. If I moved to another country legally, I don't think I would have any problem proving I was there legally. Of course, I am a law-abiding citizen.
Pam J June 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM
You may want to cut back on the caffeine... :)
Michael Letterman June 04, 2012 at 08:19 PM
@Pam, you need to cut back on your weakness. This is the truth and America needs to wake up and smell the "CAFFE CON LECHE." WE NEED TO GET SERIOUS WITH CONTROLLING OUR IMMIGRATION CRISIS. ROUND THEM UP IN BOXCARS TO THE BORDER AND DUMP THEM ALL IN THE GUATEMALO-MEXICAN JUNGLE!!!!!
Michael Letterman June 06, 2012 at 04:48 AM
You are a traitor to this country. You go around aiding and abaitting this scum. Where do you get off????? The Mexicans come here to suck our intrastructures dry. SLURP SLURP SLURP. They don't have a culture of work ethics! All they know is kill and rape and welfare. Just look at their current drug CIVIL WAR south of the rio grande. You need to be charged with treason for your actions. It is federally unconstitutional to give help or friendship to enemies of the state. If your "AMIGO" is getting pulled over by the good AMERICAN POLICE, HE IS DOING SOMETHING WRONG BECAUSE BEING IN THIS COUNTRY ILLEGALLY IS ILLEGAL!!!!
Melanie June 06, 2012 at 12:32 PM
It's all fun and games until an unlicensed immigrant driver hits you and because they have no insurance and you end up paying the $$ to fix your car and pay your medical bills, if they want to live in the USA so badly, let them follow the steps to do it legally. Have you ever driven down County Services Pkwy and noticed how many illegal immigrants are receiving free healthcare that WE pay for their extra large families?
Pam J June 06, 2012 at 01:50 PM
You are correct. In another article, where they are talking about the scholarship this kid got, he admitted he was scared to drive to south Georgia since he didn't have a driver's license. And he's obviously driving since he got pulled over before. He was just blantantly breaking the laws. And then they print an article like this to probably try and make us feel sorry for him. I do feel sorry for him in the fact that his family brought him here in the first place.
Kiri Walton (Editor) June 06, 2012 at 02:05 PM
There is no article published on South Cobb Patch about Jesus Cruz receiving a scholarship. There is an article published about Rolando Zenteno receiving a scholarship. This story was not published to make anyone feel sorry, but only to inform people about what's going on and to start conversation about it.
Sandy June 06, 2012 at 03:39 PM
REALLY people what I have to say AMERICANS in the U.S stop talking because u r making this country POOR just for the fact that u guys received FOOD STAMPS, PEACH STATE and free HOUSING and many more !! and yes the illegal people does pay taxes. START working and STOP been LAZY and STEALING and get a REAL JOB ! The Hispanic do all the jobs here in the U.S why because U the Americans can do what Hispanics do lol .. HARD WORK hahaha !!
Michael Letterman June 06, 2012 at 03:45 PM
You are ILETTERATE!! DO NOT EVER come to my country to lecture me on my constitution! WE do not need "the Hispanic " in my country! The Hispanic is what's driving us bankrupt. Our debt keeps piling up and the liberal policitians just want another group of perpetual voters like the blacks. So they keep giving them the "carrot at the end of the stick." I say deport them all!!!!! Down to MEEEHEEECOOOH with you and the rest of the scum.
Pam J June 06, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Sandy, it...does...not....matter....how....hard....you.....work if you are here illegally. Illegal is criminal.
Rev. NaDine Rawls June 07, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Eric, You are most correct. This is nothing knew, people are just now paying attention. It's been out there for decades. The federal government have been paying hospitals in the state of California for years for taking care of illegal immigrants. They DO NOT get SSA # no matter how hard they try. I am personally aware of government employees that have been fired and charged with selling SSA# to illegal immigrants. The United States would probably get more Border Patrol agents if the starting pay was more than $25K a year - not much for putting your life on the line and about the same as a a city police officer. A lot of pros and cons on this issue -- every thing is not as it seems.
Scarleth Delgado June 11, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I can't keep reading all the comments because it is so disappointing to read all the negativity that most of you have written. It is sad to hear all your selfish comments. You think that some people want to leave their native countries to come to America because they 'WANT'!?!? Well let me tell you the answer NO! Due to circumstances of life, people are faced to make decisions that not always are to their comfort. Not everyone's faith is written with a gold pen! You are quick to point fingers and judge but can never as a human try to put yourselves in these peoples shoes. I am a Latina, & Im not here to steal your money or job! Im here to make a brighter future for myself and family. I work hard just like you or any other citizen! We are no less because of a piece of paper which states if i am or not a Citizen of America! If you would stop for a minute and just stop being so cruel with your comments and rather try to help and add atleast a grain of love rather than hate. We would make a country as strong as America as beautiful as its diversity!!!
Pam J June 11, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Scarleth, are you here legally? If so, great. But our country is in bad shape right now, and even though people are saying that American citizens will not do the jobs that the immigrants will do, they are wrong. I have actually applied for jobs at hotels/motels to clean the rooms, but I haven't gotten one call. Go to any hotel/motel, and most of the employees can't even speak English. You can call us mean and heartless, but tell that to my friend who got hit by someone who was here illegally. He did not have insurance, so her insurance had to pay and it counted against her. If you don't like the comments, don't read them any more. And by the way, jobs are probably just as easy to find in Mexico as they are in America right now. Plus, it's a lot cheaper to live there.
Pam J June 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
You should not have been allowed to use that first word on here. I don't hate people. I just want law abiding people here. What part of "illegal" do you not understand?
Pam J June 18, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Just for the record, I flagged Estephanie Hernandez's comment as inappropriate simply because of the first word in the comment. The rest of it is okay because they are apparently Latino and they seem to think that they are taking over ("there's going to be change in America whether you like it or not"). Fine.
Kiri Walton (Editor) June 18, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Please review our terms of service. We do not allow profanity or personal attacks on individuals. Anyone who does not abide by the Patch Terms of Service will have his or her account suspended and no longer permitted to post on the site. Thanks. http://southcobb.patch.com/terms
William G Whitaker "Bill" July 17, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Yes an orderly path, which exists NOW. So stand in line and wait your turn. We cannot allow gross invasion by all those who wish to come. As to those picked up undocumented found to be violating our laws should be sent back and NEVER allowed to return.


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