Blog Archive

Friday, December 3, 2010

Judge Delays Deportation

By Betsy Yagla
New Haven Advocate
Friday, December 03, 2010

Washington Colala’s deportation has been put on hold for a week, thanks to U.S. district court judge Stefan Underhill.

Colala was scheduled to be deported on Monday Dec. 6 to Ecuador—he’d even bought his plane ticket—despite the fact that Colala has a pending civil rights lawsuit against Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), the agency moving to deport him.

"This is a very meaningful decision for [Colala] because it allows him to fight for his own rights and the rights of others in similar situations," said Mark Pedulla, one of Colala's Yale Law student attorneys.

Colala is "delighted," says Pedulla.

Colala is one of 11 plaintiffs suing ICE, claiming their civil rights were violated in a June 2007 raid in Fair Haven. The raid came two days after New Haven aldermen voted to approve the city’s ID card program available to all residents regardless of their immigration status.

Colala and more than 30 immigrants were arrested in the raids and ICE began deportation proceedings against them. Some of the 30 have left voluntarily, others legal removal cases are still pending in immigration court.

Colala’s appeals have been exhausted.

He is one of many undocumented immigrants across the country fighting to stay here until they are able to complete their civil rights cases against the immigration agency.

After a conference call today between Colala’s Yale student lawyers and Judge Underhill, Underhill ruled to stay—or delay—Colala’s deportation for one week.

Underhill has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, Dec. 9 to decide whether Colala will be allowed to remain in the country to see through his civil rights lawsuit.

Colala is the father of four children, two of whom were born in the U.S. He’s been in the country for 15 years, working in the construction field. He says his children and wife depend on him “100 percent” and supporting them economically will be difficult in Ecuador.

Another thing that will be difficult, or virtually impossible, from Ecuador: Participating in his lawsuit against ICE.

Colala says that on the morning of June 6, 2007 he was outside his home when he was approached by immigration officials. They asked for his ID and he said it was inside. Then, guns drawn, they told Colala to let them into his house. Colala obeyed, showed them his ID and then was handcuffed.

He says it was about half an hour after he was handcuffed that the agents identified themselves.