Big Island farmer who rallied Kona community loses deportation battle
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The respected Big Island coffee farmer whose deportation fight rallied the Kona community and garnered the support of Hawaii's Congressional delegation has failed to convince federal authorities to allow him to stay in the United States.
Andres Magana left the Big Island on Friday night, headed for Mexico, where he will stay until applications for legal status can be approved.
He says he doesn't have any family in Mexico, but will stay with friends.
"Very, very said and very disappointed in many ways, but there's not much I can do," he said, at Kona International Airport, after saying goodbye to his wife and three children. "Just follow what I have to do and hopefully, in a little bit, things can get better."
The 43-year-old had been granted a 30-day reprieve from deportation, but agreed to leave the country once the period ran out if an agreement couldn't be reached.
The additional time was to allow the Department of Homeland Security to consider a petition to give Magana legal status as the husband of a U.S. citizen.
Magana's story has generated national headlines.
Hawaii's Congressional delegation and others had asked DHS to reconsider Magana's deportation, pointing to his stature in the community and the fact that he was trying to attain a legal status.
Immigration policies enacted by President Trump's administration forced farmer to return to Mexico.
In an impassioned opinion in May, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt said while he had no authority to block the deportation order, he still was hard-pressed to see how it was consistent with the president's promise of an immigration system with heart.
"President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the 'bad hombres,'" Reinhardt said, in an opinion that grabbed national headlines. "The government's decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the 'good hombres' are not safe."
Magana was smuggled into the U.S. at just 15 years old, landing in Kona in 1989 to take a job picking coffee.
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