Glenn Fogle, the Guzmans’ immigration attorney, explains it this way:
After almost 19 months after being arrested by an ICE “Fugitive Operations Unit” at his home in North Carolina in front of his wife and then 2 year old son, on a removal order he did not even know about, Pedro Guzman has been granted Special Rule Cancellation of Removal (a green card) by Immigration Judge Dan Trimble at Stewart Immigration Court on May 16, 2011. He was released today, May 17, 2011 after the DHS waived appeal. Pedro finally had his day in court after the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed Atlanta Immigration Judge William A. Cassidy, both on bond denial and a removal order where Cassidy found Pedro ineligible for relief. This needlessly resulted in his prolonged 19 month detention and deprived his wife and young son of their husband and father. Pedro’s story has been in national newspapers and is now the subject of a short documentary. This was a very long and hard fought battle and Pedro must be commended for his perseverance in detention while we fought his case.
The Guzmans’ plight was a focus of the November 2010 vigil at the Stewart Detention Center, which included 100 attendees of which eight of those were arrested for civil disobedience (an event organized by Alterna in collaboration with Georgia Detention Watch, SOA Watch, Witness for Peace and others).
Indeed, this case has drawn national attention to the inhumanity of immigration detention. The Guzmans’ courage and persistence has inspired many, including folks who just months ago knew nothing about the immoral and unjust immigration detention system and its insidious collusion with for-profit prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). While our sick immigration system scapegoated Pedro and robbed his wife and four year old son of nearly two years of his life, CCA pocketed over $77,000 on this one case and the Stewart County government got its own kickback of approximately $600.
Righteous indignation is merited but not today. Today is a day to celebrate! I want to sincerely thank everyone who played any role in the liberation of Pedro. If you ever attended any vigil at any detention center, you played a role. If you ever visited someone detained on immigration charges, you played a role. If you ever financially supported Alterna or any other organization fighting for immigrant justice, you played a role. If you ever volunteered at El Refugio, Alterna’s hospitality house outside the gates of Stewart Detention Center, you played a role. And your role is worth celebrating. And the reunion of Pedro, Emily, and Logan is worth celebrating!