news briefs

Rivas is allowed to stay in the U.S.—for now
Courtesy of Jenny Martinez

A stay of deportation for Jaime Leon Rivas

Last week, Jaime Leon Rivas was sitting in a cell facing possible deportation from the United States back to his native El Salvador. This week, he is out and back on track to complete high school in Frisco.

It’s an unexpected turnaround for the young man who feared that if he is forced out of the United States, he could be killed by gangs.

Last week, Boulder Weekly reported how Rivas came to the United States as a boy, escaping the poverty and violence of San Salvador. In 2005, at the age of 10, Rivas and one of his brothers were brought to the United States by people smugglers — coyotes — after Rivas’ mother sent for the boys. When they crossed into southern Texas, they became lost and were eventually detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Because they were minors, the boys were not deported, but instead brought to relatives in Colorado. They enrolled in school and learned English.

Later, Rivas, while still a minor, was issued a departure order requiring him to leave the country of his own accord. He never did. Instead he continued to attend school, and also got into trouble with the law, but completed a juvenile program to turn his life around. Despite his progress, in early March he was handcuffed and taken to the ICE detention center in Aurora. After his arrest, a determined group of supporters, including his teachers and principal from Snowy Peaks High School, attended a vigil at the center, marking Rivas’ 19th birthday. A week later, ICE granted what’s called a “stay of removal,” allowing Rivas to remain in the U.S. for up to a year.

“Stays do not get granted very often,” says Rivas’ attorney, Alexander McShiras with the Chan Law Firm in Denver. “So it is a small victory — miracle — that he was released and the stay was granted.”

For Rivas, the stay may have saved his life. He was adamant in his interview with BW that if he was returned to El Salvador he could be killed by gangsters. Though Rivas has resisted involvement in gangs, ICE has labeled him as associated with the ultraviolent Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang. Rivas’ grandfather is believed to have been killed by gangsters in San Salvador, and the rest of his family there is in hiding.

The stay also buys McShiras time to argue for a “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival” since Rivas came to the U.S. as a boy. McShiras’ plan is to seek to reopen Rivas’ case, allowing for presentations to a judge to keep him in the country.

Meanwhile, Rivas could find another way to stay permanently in the U.S.

He and his girlfriend, Jenny Martinez, a U.S. citizen, are discussing marriage.

“There are not any definite plans, but we are talking about it,” she says.


Bill that would have given oil companies the right of eminent domain is dead … for now

Controversial Senate Bill 93 has died in the House. One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jenise May, D-Aurora, requested that the bill be laid over until May 9, a date beyond the end of this session, effectively killing the legislation.

The industry-friendly bill was originally put forward as an attempt to override a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2012 which found that utility companies have the right of eminent domain to secure rights of way for electric and gas lines, but oil and gas companies do not.

The language of the bill would have given oil and gas companies who “operate pipelines that convey oil, gasoline, or other petroleum or hydrocarbon products” the right of eminent domain.

The bill had many opponents, including commissioners from Weld County who are generally supportive of the oil and gas industry. Some critics questioned the constitutionality of the state granting such rights to private companies with no clear public interest hanging in the balance.