Local News

Presidential hopeful introduces bill in defense of Gomez brothers

Posted: 09/19/07 at 3:49 pm EDT      Last Updated: 09/20/07 at 3:49 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (WSVN) -- Two Colombian teenagers from Miami are awaiting a decision by lawmakers after a Democratic Presidential hopeful introduced an extension-seeking bill for the brothers before Congress last night.

The letter, penned by Senator Chris Dodd, requests an automatic stay of removal for 19-year-old Juan and 18-year-old Alex Gomez until March of 2009.

Nineteen-year-old Juan Gomez insists Dodd's party affiliation has no bearing on the bill's intent. "He was very responsive to the issue," said the Miami Killian Senior High School honors graduate. "He saw this not as a Democratic issue but as a humanitarian issue; an issue in which my brother and I needed his help."

Politicians have yet to make a decision regarding the pair's other private bill or the DREAM Act.

House Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart filed a private bill on behalf of Juan and Alex on July 30, seeking permanent residency for the pair. As of Sept. 6, lawmakers had yet to place the bill on the House Immigration Subcommittee's agenda.

The DREAM Act, or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, a perennial bill co-sponsored by Diaz-Balart, would allow qualified students, brought to the U.S. at least five years ago and before they turned 16, to get temporary residency while they complete at least two years of college or serve in the U.S. military. Permanent residency could be granted after six years. The bill could impact roughly 65,000 other students in the same situation as the Gomez brothers.

Diaz-Balart, along with his brother and fellow Congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, are also attempting to reopen the asylum petition denied to the Gomez family. The politicians claim that the Gomez family could get their case reviewed again on the basis that some of the family's relatives have been killed in Colombia since an immigration judge rejected their petition.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Gomez family was only authorized to stay in the U.S. for six months in 1990 while on visitor's visas. In 2002, ICE says an immigration judge denied the parents' request for legal status following due process and lengthy appeals. ICE added that the Gomez family ignored deportation orders, thus becoming fugitives.

On the morning of July 25, ICE raided the family's Kendall home, detaining the four as a result of years of illegal residence. ICE released the Gomez family from custody on Aug. 1. Authorities have since granted the family a series of stay of deportation extensions, the most recent of which is set to expire Oct. 14. 

(Copyright 2007 by The Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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