By Mark Hallum
Maspeth resident Edisson Barros’ deportation to Ecuador, issued by a New Jersey immigration judge, was waylaid by Manhattan Federal Judge Katherine Polk Failla late last week when she issued a stay allowing him to fight for the right to remain in the country.
Barros was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as he left a courthouse hearing on his arrest following a dispute over his dog in mid-July. He was detained in New Jersey until federal immigration Judge Mirlande Tadal determined Aug. 15 that the cabbie, who has been in the United States for 23 years and has two American daughters, would be sent back to his home country.
The Immigration Law Unit at the Legal Aid Society defended Barros, who made it as far as the Louisiana before the stay on deportation was issued.
“[Failla] issued a stay of deportation late Thursday night for Edisson Barros, a 25-year native of Queens, father of two, and veteran New York City cab driver who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month and had been scheduled for immediate removal back to Ecuador,” The Legal Aid Society said in a statement. “Mr. Barros was issued a summons for a mere desk ticket after a dispute as he protected his beloved family dog from a reckless motorist. Following the incident, Mr. Barros dutifully appeared in court to successfully contest the charges, but was subsequently arrested by ICE when leaving court.”
Irene Teran, Barros’ niece, told TimesLedger after Tadal ruled in favor of the deportation that the family was struggling following his arrest and seemingly imminent removal.
“We are completely destroyed, we’re devastated. We worked so hard on this and I don’t know how to explain it, but we are completely devastated,” Teran said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Barros was arrested after his dog ran into the road and in an attempt to get the attention of a motorist, he threw his keys at the car that was barreling toward his pet, according to City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights).
“Deporting Edisson Barros will not Make America Great Again. It will succeed only in decimating and devastating a family,” Moya said, referring to President Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan. “There is no honor in visiting this hell on Edisson and his family, and doing so is not a defense of America or liberty. In the interest of justice, we are calling on Judge Mirlande Tadal to stay his deportation, at least until she can review his case and make an informed decision.”
Moya additionally pointed out that just two weeks prior to Tadal’s decision, Queens residents from the South American country had celebrated the Ecuadorian Day Parade down Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights.
Western Queens is home to a third of the state’s Ecuadorian population.
Catalina Cruz, a Democrat running against state Assemblywoman Ari Espinal (D-Jackson Heights), claimed a victory over ICE Aug. 15 after providing legal resources to the family of Mexican national Alfredo Flores, 36, who was detained by federal agents and later released.
“As a formerly undocumented American, I know too well the desperation felt by families who fear separation,” Cruz said. “Sadly, the experience Alfredo and his wife went through is not uncommon. It is the harsh reality many families in our community are going through. That’s why I’ve decided to run for the state Assembly because we need real solutions to ensure due process for all by securing the funds necessary to fund immigrant legal services.”
Flores spent a total of 20 days in detention, where he worried he would be separated from his family by thousands of miles.
“When I was detained, I feared the worst and that I would be deported,” Flores said. “Fortunately, my wife was able to find the right help so that I can once again be with my family.”
Flores was on a Greyhound on his way to Seattle when the bus took a detour through Canada, prompting his is arrest upon re-entry into the United States, according to Cruz.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall