Man facing deportation in Mississippi gets extension

Published 9:11 pm Saturday, April 29, 2017

GREENWOOD (AP) — A Mexican man who has lived in Mississippi the past 20 years says he has been given more time until facing possible deportation.

Martin Duron-Esparza, 36, met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees Wednesday, Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

Duron-Esparza immigrated to Leflore County as a 16yearold but never obtained documents for permanent residency. He said he received annual work permits for six years, but those ended last June, without explanation.

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ICE originally demanded that Duron-Esparza leave the U.S. by April 13. He was later told he could stay in Greenwood until his children finish this academic year at St. Francis School.

He said ICE has set his possible departure date for June 1, but he is asking permission to stay another year.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, have five children. The family attends St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, where he serves on the Parish Council.

As part of his campaign for a stay, Duron-Esparza will offer documentation of taxes paid, school records and letters of goodwill from U.S. citizens. The letters would attest to character and good standing in the community.

“The main thing is support from the community,” he said. “There are some people out there who know me and have some concern for my family. If we stay here, we will be good. We can stay here and be legal.”

He has worked under contract on agricultural pivot irrigation systems, but this was disrupted after ICE agents sought him out.

“I haven’t been able to work since all of this happened,” he said. “I haven’t had time.”

He said he has been driving the couple’s children back and forth from school after an earlier encounter with immigration agents unnerved his wife.

On April 10, she was returning from the school with children in their vehicle when ICE agents made an unannounced trip to Greenwood to arrest Duron-Esparza. She was detained on the street and made to telephone him for ICE. He was working near Vicksburg when he received the call.

“She’s not wanting to get out of the house,” he said. “We spend the night taking turns looking out the window to make sure they don’t come.”

In Pearl, he was presented with a less forceful side of ICE employees. He said he wants to thank them for working with him and described one of the agents who came to his house as a “human being” who is “doing his job.”