Residents rally against local’s deportation
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – About 40 people rallied at noon on Friday to protest the pending deportation of a Basalt woman, whose son recently won a prestigious scholarship to attend Duke University.
Norma Galindo, 39, also known by her married name, Norma Morales, was taken into custody on April 24 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on a removal order issued in 2005 and upheld in 2008. She is an undocumented Mexican citizen who has lived in the U.S. for the past 21 years.
The day before, Galindo and her husband, Hector Morales, learned that the older of their two U.S.-born sons, Hector Morales Jr., was among the 258 Colorado high school seniors selected to receive a Daniels Fund college scholarship.
Now the family is distraught that Galindo is in custody, facing deportation to Mexico, as her son is about to graduate from Basalt High School. The family’s younger son, Oswaldo, is 12.
The rally, held to bring attention to their plight, included remarks by Hector Jr., Glenwood Springs immigration attorney Ted Hess, and Association of Youth United in Action leader Edgar Niebla.
Hess has filed for a stay of deportation on Galindo’s behalf, noting that her husband has an approved immigration visa and that Hector Jr., now 18, would be able to seek an immigration visa for his mother once he turns 21.
The Morales family and the Association of Youth United in Action are asking ICE to reconsider Norma’s deportation, allow her to stay with her family, attend her son’s high school graduation, and “to be given a chance to legally be a part of the nation her family calls home,” according to a press release issued Friday morning.
“My whole life, my mother has instructed me to exceed expectations and do everything wholeheartedly. She encourages me to strive to be the best person I can be, and that is why I have accomplished so much up to this point,” stated Hector Jr. in the release.
“It is crucial that she be present at my graduation as she has greatly contributed to my success, and is my No. 1 fan. This past week has been devastating. I can’t imagine moving forward without her,” he said.
The release notes that Hector Jr. is an active member of Christ the Rock Church, a community volunteer and activist, and was selected as the 2011 Western Slope Player of the Year for soccer.
Two Basalt High staffers spoke on Galindo’s behalf in the release.
Daniel LeBlanc, a Basalt High teacher and basketball coach, said, “The Morales family should be celebrated as a model for all of our families. We should be honoring them, not tearing them apart.”
Adriana Hire, BHS assistant principal, said, “Judging by her amazing son, Norma must be a very special mother. Kids like Hector seldom raise themselves. They often come from families where their values and dreams are nurtured by caring and responsive parents, who instill in them principles that carry their actions throughout their lives.”
In a brief Hess filed May 3 along with the stay of deportation motion, the attorney notes that immigration officials put Galindo on the list for deportation in 2005, and an immigration judge upheld the deportation order in 2008.
Hess argues that while Galindo was legally bound to leave the U.S., “she had a moral duty to remain with and raise her children.”
In 2006, Galindo was convicted in Garfield County Court of a misdemeanor charge after she tried to obtain a state ID card at the Glenwood Springs Department of Motor Vehicles office using another person’s New Mexico birth certificate. Galindo served one year of unsupervised probation.
Hess argues that a policy issued by ICE in 2011, outlining conditions that would warrant discretion on the part of prosecutors in choosing whether to pursue deportation cases, would change the course of Galindo’s case. Hess argues in his brief that Galindo meets many of those guidelines.
In her favor are her contributions to the community, raising a model family, learning English, volunteering at her sons’ schools, her husband’s immigration visa and the primitive living conditions she would face in her home village of Hueypan in Hidalgo, Mexico.
Her disadvantages are the state ID card conviction and her decision to stay in the U.S. despite the removal order.
Hess contends that these factors would have led a U.S. immigration judge to make a different decision when Galindo appeared in 2008 for a hearing to appeal the deportation order. At the time, the judge denied her appeal. Hess argues that under the 2011 guidelines, her deportation case would have been closed.
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