St. Paul community rallies around father facing deportation

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UPDATE: Enriquez has been granted a six-month extension as he faces deportation according to his attorney. 

A man living in Saint Paul is facing deportation. Now, after an outpouring of support from elected leaders, he will be able to stay in the U.S. for a little bit longer.

Armando Enriquez was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in January. His attorney, Danielle Robinson Briand, said it happened outside his home.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS verified he doesn’t have a criminal record locally or federally. Briand said he’s been deported before for entering the U.S. illegally so his re-entry is considered a felony.

They’re fighting to keep Enriquez in the U.S. while his son undergoes a bone marrow transplant. The 6-year-old was born with a rare genetic disorder and has been undergoing treatment at hospitals in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

On Thursday night, more than 200 people gathered at Ministerios Internacionales Rios de Agua Viva. They prayed in support of Enriquez's family.

“Many people love him,” said Pastor Luis Rivera. “He's family and that's the reason for the great support that he has.”

Rivera told us the family joined the church about 7 years ago. Enriquez is an usher and teaches bible study.

He’s also the primary source of income for his family.

“The family is going to suffer and the life of the kid will be at risk, too,” said Rivera, about the deportation. “Many people maybe need to be deported because they're making trouble in their community but that's not the case. Armando is an excellent citizen, a good person and I think he needs a chance. He deserves a chance.”

Mayor Melvin Carter attended the prayer service. He’s one of several elected officials who petitioned for a stay of removal. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith, as well as Governor Walz’s office confirmed they are all working on the case.

While ICE won’t comment on the case, an ICE official with knowledge of it told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they have temporarily halted the proceedings while the case is taken back under consideration.

Rivera told us it happened just in time, while Enriquez was sitting on the plane to go back to Honduras.

“It’s a miracle because he was on the plane, waiting for the airplane door to close and fly,” he said. “We are waiting but it’s good news, we have hope.”

According to an ICE official, a stay of removal is only temporary so Enriquez will eventually be deported.

Through their attorney, his wife Mirna released a statement, which said, “Our family has been very worried about Armando for the last four weeks while he faces deportation from the United States to Honduras. Of course this has been difficult to explain to our young children who are used to seeing their dad every day.  But, we will keep fighting to keep Armando here and pray that he will be returned to his family here in Minnesota soon.”

Sen. Klobuchar released the following statement:

"Armando Enriquez is needed at home in St. Paul with his family to care for his sick son Jairo—allowing Armando to remain in the U.S. to work would ensure that he is able to pay for Jairo’s upcoming surgery, bone marrow transplant, and any other treatments deemed necessary by his rare genetic disorder. My office is working to help Armando receive an administrative stay of removal from immigration and customs enforcement, and I will keep fighting to keep this family together so Jairo can get the medical help he needs.”

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement, "We are encouraged that Mr. Enriquez's removal is being reconsidered, and will continue supporting efforts to bring him home."