After nine months of fighting — six of those from inside sanctuary — Ingrid Encalada Latorre is making one final plea to avoid deportation back to her home country of Peru.
Encalada, an undocumented Colorado resident, was granted a stay of deportation in May to allow a series of trials to play out. She argued in court that bad legal advice led to a felony conviction which, her supporters say, led to removal proceedings. A Jefferson County judge ruled in her favor on the first of two post-conviction trials that could have allowed her to re-try the criminal charges. This week that judge ruled against Encalada in her second post-conviction trial, meaning the only way she might be able drop her felony charge is by a gubernatorial pardon. Encalada and supporters met in a Capitol chamber this morning to ask Gov. John Hickenlooper to forgive her crime.
But even a pardon would not ensure Encalada’s future in the U.S. There is no rubric spelling out which undocumented residents become a priority for federal immigration authorities.
“Every person is their own category,” said Carl Rusnok, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement central region spokesman. Because immigration law is so complicated, he said, each case is taken on its own merits.
There’s no general rule that would indicate whether or not someone in Encalada’s position might be allowed to stay based on a pardon. Jennifer Piper, an advocate who has helped Encalada since entering sanctuary, said dropped charges would just a give them a stronger case to go back in front of an immigration judge and ask to remain in the country.
That’s what’s happening in the case of Rene Lima-Marin, a Colorado man who was accidentally released early after being imprisoned for armed robbery, then re-incarcerated, then released, then picked up by immigration officials and then pardoned by Hickenlooper. Last month, an immigration judge allowed him to re-open his deportation case. Lima-Marin faces potential removal to Cuba, a country he left when he was 2.
Encalada and supporters see their plea to the governor as their last hope.
Flanking her in the Capitol was state Rep. Faith Winter and state Sen. Dominick Moreno, who both represent Adams County. They are among 20 elected officials who supporters say have expressed support for Encalada.
Shortly after her address, Governor Hickenlooper could be found in his own press conference — one about healthcare — just one floor below. Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George asked the governor if he planned to grant Encalada her pardon, but Hickenlooper declined to comment.
“We have gotten the application,” he said. “We’re going through the process.”