A story in this morning’s New York Times about a Texas college student whose deportation to Mexico has been put on hold by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as long as she stays in school and out of trouble reminded me to check on Jonathan Chavez. Chavez, 22, a native of Peru who is undocumented, is the University of Arkansas student who was apprehended by ICE over Christmas as he traveled to visit his mother in Florida. We wrote about his detention in January. After several weeks, he was allowed to return to Arkansas and his studies. Read our stories about Chavez in January and February.


Here’s the update on Chavez: He had a hearing in Miami on April 5 and the judge, whom he described as “very nice and considerate,” agreed to move the venue for his deportation hearing to a Memphis immigration court and to allow him to change representation. He will now be represented by the U of A — he says it will be law students under the direction of U of A Law School, as he understands it — at a hearing Nov. 9.

Chavez says he may graduate with a degree in vocal performance in December, but more likely it will be in May 2012. He has visited both Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music and hopes to be accepted at one (he prefers the Manhattan School) to pursue a master’s degree in operatic performance. If he’s deported, he’ll still try to pursue a master’s degree in some other country, but he said he prefers to stay in the U.S., his home since junior high school.


It was my first conversation with Chavez, and I asked him about what he put as his Social Security number on his application to the U of A. He said he just left it blank. He is attending school on a privately funded scholarship.

From to the New York Times article about Olga Zanella, who was facing deportation to Mexico, where she has no family and which she doesn’t even remember:


Homeland Security officials have said their focus is increasingly on removing immigrants who are convicted criminals. That, in fact, is what an ICE official told Ms. Zanella in explaining the new decision in her case.

The agent said ICE “was supposed to be concentrating on criminals, not on Dream students,” said Ralph Isenberg, a Dallas businessman who advocates for immigrants and made it his cause to prevent Ms. Zanella from being deported. Mr. Isenberg’s challenges to ICE had kept Ms. Zanella in the country even after the final date for her deportation in February.