Antonio Velasquez’s situation is unique. In fact, it’s more than unique. My San Antonio Online’s in-depth examination of the entangled legal intricacies of his case would have any San Antonio lawyer, indeed entire law firms in areas highly populated by immigrants, scrambling to fight on all fronts to represent his interests.
Antonio Velasquez, of Mayan descent, fled Guatemala in 1995 to escape the tangible threat of persecution by a regime known for its genocide of indigenous people. Traveling through Mexico, Velasquez was arrested in Brownsville, and granted asylum in the U.S. in 1997. Texas immigration lawyers might say that part of his case is simple and straightforward - but just wait. In 2003, while his siblings visited from Guatemala, Velasquez was crushed while working beneath a car. Unconscious for 20 days, Velasquez’s recovery looked unlikely, and when he awoke, he was declared totally disabled. Granted extensions to remain in the country to care for their older brother, Velasquez’s siblings worked to raise the money for his therapies and pay injury and immigration attorneys. One San Antonio lawyer in review of this case commented that it was “a mess,” while another immigration attorney saw the complexities as baffling.
Velasquez’s family stayed in the U.S. after their extensions expired and continued to care for their totally disabled brother. In danger of deportation, his sister approached federal immigration officials in San Antonio about establishing residency for herself, but they refuse to grant her an audience to hear her application. The family’s San Antonio lawyer argues that if it were not for their care, Velasquez would be a ward of the state, living in the hospital. Instead, through hard work of San Antonio immigration attorneys, Velasquez has been granted citizenship after several hearings and background checks. The tricky part? In his disability, Velasquez needs a legally appointed guardian to speak on his behalf to complete the citizenship test. Guess who? His sister.
Granted guardianship by the courts in 2009 while still an undocumented immigrant, Velasquez’s sister knew she needed to apply for residency to gain security in her ability to care for her brother, now a citizen. However, ICE denied her request. The family’s San Antonio lawyer who specializes as an immigration attorney reiterates that this family’s situation is one that is borne of an immigration system that is enforced inconsistently across the nation and makes pseudo citizens of millions of people who enter the country illegally. Prompting politicians of both parties to call for change, situations like Velasquez’s would be confusing to any San Antonio lawyer, Texas representative or federal immigration official. Velasquez, now a citizen, is being cared for by a legally-appointed guardian who has no legal standing within the borders of the U.S. Yes, we’re all confused, and it is doubtful that even the government itself, so burdened by its crisscrossing bureaucracies and their over and under-reaching policies, could sort this one out cleanly. One would assume that if they could, they probably already would have.