A respected Kona coffee farmer is being allowed to stay in the country for now.
Andres Magana Ortiz came to the United States illegally almost 30 years ago, and has three children who were born in the U.S.
For the past decade, he has owned his own business, helping to maintain 140 acres of coffee farms in Kona.
Magana Ortiz had been trying for more than a year to obtain legal status on the basis of his wife’s and children’s citizenship, but on March 21, the government ordered him to report for removal and repeated requests for a stay were denied.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security granted Magana Ortiz a 30-day stay of deportation, but the fight isn’t over.
“Right now we have been given 30 days to try to find some other alternative for him to stay in the country. If we don’t achieve some other alternative in 30 days, then we’ve agreed to go,” said Magana Ortiz’s attorney, James Stanton. “(Magana Ortiz has) agreed to leave voluntarily at his own expense, and they understand we’ll be working on other channels to get a stay, and they’ll respect that if we get it, but if we aren’t able to get it, then he understands he will go back to Mexico.”
Magana Ortiz says he’s happy with Thursday’s outcome and feels some relief, but “I don’t think it’s really a victory yet.
“I’ve got to go back (to Kona) to keep working, and I’m going to let (Stanton) do his job. I totally believe in him and that’s pretty much all I can do,” he continued. “I’m always still hopeful that something is going to happen.”
Hawaii’s congressional leaders have already pledged their support. On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Mazie Hirono took to the Senate floor to implore Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to keep Magana Ortiz in the country.
Kelly has the authority to issue a stay that would stop the deportation.
“Andres’ ordeal speaks to the very real fear and anxiety spreading through immigrant communities across the country. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship, and which prioritizes family unity,” Hirono said.
If Magana Ortiz is deported, he will not be allowed to come back to the U.S. for 10 years.