The fate of a Guatemalan immigrant with ties to Kennett Square hanged in the balance Tuesday as local officials decided whether he will be deported or allowed to remain in the country.
Earlier this month, police pulled over Hever Puac Domingo and his family during a traffic stop in Lancaster County. Domingo disclosed his immigration status and was arrested in front of a family member. The car was impounded and the family left to make their own way home, said Kennett Square pastor Juan Carlos Navarro on Facebook.
Domingo was sent to a detention center in York County while Navarro helped pick up the family's car. He was charged $425, he said on social media.
"The 6-year-old girl cried and begged me to help 'daddy return home,'" Navarro wrote.
Lawyers for the family do not know why he was stopped in the first place.
“We have had clients tell us that they were pulled over for no reason at all,” immigration lawyer Anna Paciorek said. “There is a lot of racial profiling going on.”
Domingo’s journey started four years ago when he crossed into the United States without documentation. Fleeing poverty and violence in his native country, he was stopped at the border by immigration officials and received an expedited removal order, Paciorek said.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Despite the order, Domingo settled in Chester County with his wife and two daughters. He is the sole guardian of his younger brother, who is applying for permanent residency. One of his children is a U.S. citizen and one is a student in the Kennett Consolidated School District.
Domingo has no criminal record.
Early Monday morning, he boarded a plane headed to the U.S.- Mexico border, where he was to be deported out of the country. Philadelphia lawyers intervened on his behalf and issued a stay of removal. He was returned to York County Prison pending a review of his case.
In the meantime, Paciorek’s firm waged a campaign to keep Domingo in the U.S. Sympathetic community members have flooded Immigration and Customs Enforcement with phone calls and emails asking officials to not separate the family. The law firm credits these efforts with Domingo’s return to Pennsylvania after his narrow brush with deportation.
A vigil is planned in his honor Friday, May 26, at the First Baptist Church in Kennett Square.