A North Carolina judge has granted Erick Velazquillo, 22, a 45-day reprieve to allow for a request for “prosecutorial discretion” to be considered by Immigration and Customs officials.
Velazquillo was facing deportation back to Mexico though he had not lived there since he was 2years old. He was arrested after an officer pulled him over for allegedly using his high beams on a dark road, and was driving on an expired license.
Erick Velazquillo was just 2 years old when he was brought to the United States from Mexico. Now, after being arrested for a traffic violation he faces deportation to a country he does not know, but he’s getting help from a network of thousands of immigration advocates and a number of fellow undocumented immigrants like himself.
Like so many, Velazquillo did not know he was not in the country legally until his parents told him years later. He went on to finish high school, and attended Central Piedmont Community College where he earned an Associate of Arts degree. When it came time for him to advance, he applied and was accepted to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Unfortunately, due to his immigration status, he was told he would have to pay out-of-state tuition and was not eligible for any type of financial aid. Not wanting to stop his education, Velazquillo went back to taking classes at the community college.
Everything changed for him once again in October of 2010 when he was pulled over while driving home.
“I was pulled over for having my high beams on in Matthews, North Carolina,” Velazquillo explained on the advocate group N.C. Dream Team’s website. “When I got pulled over I gave the police officer my name- Erick Domingo Velazquillo. The police officer was not able to find me in the computer so he decided to search my vehicle for my license, as I had misplaced it. He found my expired license in my gym bag and accused me of lying about my identity because my license does not show my middle name Domingo.
“The police officer arrested me and charged me with driving without a license and giving fictitious information to an officer because the name on my license read Erick Velazquillo Franco.