Danilo Lopez, the Mexican farm worker who became a cause célèbre for Vermont's undocumented farm laborers, won a reprieve in his deportation case today.
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement granted Lopez (pictured) a "stay of removal" that will allow him to remain in the country at least another year. Lopez has been under threat of deportation since July 5, stemming from a 2011 traffic stop in which he and another farm worker here illegally were stopped by state police in Interstate 89.
Burlington-based advocacy group Migrant Justice issued a press release announcing the news. In it, Lopez is quoted as saying, "I've gotten such tremendous support during this campaign that we've made ICE change their mind. I feel very fortunate to have so much support — in particular from my community of farm workers who told me: 'We've got your back. We'll fight with you.'"
Perhaps more importantly, Lopez also had support from Vermont's three-member congressional delegation; U.S.Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch all wrote letters of support to ICE officials. Leahy asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to apply prosecutorial discretion to Lopez's case.
Migrant justice organizers Brendan O'Neill and Natalia Fajardo did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.