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Guatemalan teen’s asylum case delayed until June

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Guatemalan teenager who is seeking asylum from gang violence in his homeland will be able to stay in Detroit at least until mid-June after a federal immigration hearing for him was rescheduled Thursday.

Visiting immigration Judge Irma Lopez-Defillo rescheduled Oswaldo Ramos’ case for June 11, meaning the 16-year-old will be able to finish the school year at Western International High School.

Oswaldo first appeared in immigration court seeking asylum Aug. 7. An earlier hearing was postponed Oct. 16 because his lawyer requested extra time due to a change in counsel while his original lawyer was out on a medical leave.

His lawyer, Shanta Driver, had a thick stack of papers that comprised the teen’s application for asylum, but the judge rescheduled to “give the agency time to adjudicate it.”

Oswaldo, 16, smiled when the court translator explained the new court date. After the hearing, he stood outside the courtroom.

“It makes me feel happy to have more time to stay here,” he said through translator Jose Alvarenga.

Oswaldo fled his family’s home last April, leaving behind his parents and siblings. Asked how they are doing, he replied, “Thanks to God, they’re all fine.”

Oswaldo has been living with his sister, brother-in-law and infant niece on Detroit’s southwest side since May. Driver said it’s difficult for him to maneuver through his classes at Western International since he doesn’t speak English.

“It’s hard for him in school, but he’s doing as well as he can,” she said. “I can’t even imagine what it must be like not speaking the language.”

Oswaldo is one of the thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America seeking asylum from their native countries.

After leaving his home in Guatemala, he said he worked a 12-hour, $6-a-day job picking coffee beans on a plantation in southern Mexico for about a month and a half to earn money for his planned escape to the United States.

The arrival of the unaccompanied minors to Michigan has been met with both protests and peace vigils.

SLewis@detroitnews.com

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