Community rallies around Portland man fighting deportation - KPTV - FOX 12

Community rallies around Portland man fighting deportation

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - In a huge show of support, activists and community leaders gathered for a rally to support Francisco Aguirre, as he continues to seek sanctuary at a Portland church to avoid deportation.

Aguirre has been living in the basement of Augustana Lutheran ever since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials came to his Fairview home earlier this month without a warrant. 

“I pay my taxes, I work hard and nobody questions my taxes,” Aguirre told a crowd of supporters at a rally Tuesday. 

He said he left his native El Salvador for the United States nearly two decades ago to escape a civil war that left many of his family members dead. In the time since, he married and became a father, working with other immigrants and championing human rights. 

“I believe I deserve to be in this country and I don't think my two girls who are U.S. citizens should be sent to a country where they don't belong,” Aguirre added. 

But ICE says under immigration law, because Aguirre was convicted of drug trafficking 15 years ago, he's considered an “aggravated felon.” He was deported in 2000, but re-entered the country illegally again and ICE says he “remains a top priority for removal.”

Immigration officials arrived at Aguirre's home after he was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Clackamas County.

But supporters say, he is a valued member of the Portland community navigating the justice system and working to earn his U-Visa. He has a wife, Dora, and two daughters who are U.S. citizens. A pamphlet at Tuesday's rally said, “We're calling on ICE to allow Francisco to do the right thing.”

“This will be a historic night in Portland for one man one family have stood up and said, ‘enough,' with great courage,” Augustana Lutheran Pastor Mark Knutson said. “This story is much bigger than this place tonight, it's this nation today.”

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has come out in support of Aguirre, and at Tuesday's rally City Commissioner Nick Fish said, “Francisco, tonight your city council proudly stands in support of you.”

“It's not only me, it's thousands - millions - of immigrants getting detained by ICE, separating families, that's the message we want to send out there,” Aguirre told Fox 12. “We need to stop this and there is no more time for this, now is the time to do it.”

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