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Longtime Minnesota resident, facing deportation, asks community for help

Jacobo Gabriel Tomas, back left, with his wife Maria Isabel Agustin, and kids Beatriz, Elvin, and Daisy. Missing in the photo is their oldest son Darryel. Special to Forum News Service

WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Jacobo Gabriel Tomas fled violence in Guatemala at the age of 16, arriving in the U.S. in 1992.

He's 41 years old now, with a wife and four American-born kids, but as early as Monday, Oct. 2, the longtime Worthington resident could face deportation to a country he hasn't seen in more than two decades.

Under Obama-era rules, Tomas wasn't considered a priority, and was protected by prosecutorial discretion, as he has not committed any felonies, and has been paying state and federal taxes for nearly 25 years.

However, as he accepted a small fine for using falsified work documents 12 years ago, Tomas qualifies for deportation under new Trump-era rules that specify that undocumented immigrants with any criminal record are a priority. Over the last several months, ICE has denied multiple requests from Tomas to renew his prosecutorial discretion.

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota is fighting for Tomas to stay. His attorney Kathleen Klos filed a stay of adjudication Friday to delay his deportation; ICE had previously expected him to leave today, but a representative said the agency would try to make a decision on his stay today.

Klos argues he should be able to stay for three reasons: he faces possible life and death circumstances in Guatemala, he is an upstanding community member and father, who is an asset, not a threat to the U.S., and he is an original DREAMer who would qualify under the pending DREAM Act and other legislation that would increase the age limit for DREAMers.

"We want to give him more time, because he could be eligible under a new law from Congress within the next six months," Klos said.

Another large part of Klos's argument is that Tomas has been a great worker and leader in the Worthington community.

"He's paid his taxes for years, he owns a home, he's a long-term employee on a hog farm and he's an important member and leader in his church," Klos said.

As ICE has the discretion to grant a stay on a case-by-case basis, Tomas, Klos and members of his church are asking community members to call ICE's Minnesota Director of Field Operations, Scott Baniecke at (612) 843-8600 Ext. #9, and ask him to approve Jacobo Gabriel Thomas' stay of deportation. Those interested can also send an email to StPaul.OutreachJacobo Gabriel Thomas, A# 070-840-715.

They are also asking interested residents to contact the offices of Sen. Al Franken at (651) 221-1016 and Rep. Tim Walz at (507) 388-2149 in support of Tomas and his family.