As a taxi driver with a diabetic wife, two teenage daughters and elderly parents, Gurmukh Singh worried about his family’s future.
But the dismissal by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals two weeks ago of a request to reopen a 1999 asylum case has caused further anxiety for Singh and his relatives. The 18-year-old case placed the Indian native on the path to deportation, a prospect that grew increasingly likely this week.
On Monday, Singh reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Santa Ana, as he has been required to do for several years.
But this time, the 46-year-old Garden Grove resident didn’t walk back out.
An attorney for Singh — who has no criminal record — is trying to stop his deportation so Singh can continue to support his family until he returns to India as part of his green card application process.
“The request we filed with [ICE] is that they put a temporary stay on Mr. Singh’s deportation based on the … hardship his wife, children and parents will face if he’s deported,” said immigration attorney Monica Glicken. “We’re asking ICE to release him back home to his family and have him leave on his own volition. He knows he has to leave the United States.”
ICE officials confirmed that Singh does “not have any known criminal convictions in the United States.”
“ICE’s decision to take Mr. Singh into custody Monday morning was based on a deportation order handed down by an immigration judge with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review in 1999,” read a statement by ICE officials. “Over the last 18 years, Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Mr. Singh’s case has undergone exhaustive review at all levels of our nation’s legal system, including scrutiny by local immigration judges with EOIR, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After examining the facts of Mr. Singh’s case, the courts have all upheld his original removal order.”
Singh came to the United States in 1998 seeking asylum because he feared persecution in India, Glicken said. In 2013, he went to an immigration interview in order to obtain a green card. It was during this visit that officials learned of Singh’s final deportation order. He was detained for about six months, then released with the requirement to regularly check in with immigration officials.
Singh claims he never received a notification of the deportation order. Glicken said she’s looking into that issue. On Tuesday, Singh was transported to ICE’s detention facility in Adelanto.
Glicken said Singh’s family is devastated over his detention and possible deportation. The attorney said Singh’s wife, Balwinder Kaur, has been unable to eat or sleep.
“Both her and her daughters were sobbing when Singh was taken out by immigration officers to say goodbye,” Glicken said. “It was terrible.”
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