A Hawaii-based coffee farmer who was passionately defended by a federal judge earlier this month got an 11th-hour reprieve from deportation Thursday.
Andres Magana Ortiz, who has spent his entire adult life in the U.S., had said his goodbyes and boarded a plane earlier Thursday to the state's capital to turn himself into immigration authorities to honor a removal order.
But in a last-minute turn, federal officials granted him 30 more days in the country.
"This is a temporary reprieve as the Department of Homeland Security considers Mr. Magana Ortiz’s wife’s Petition for Alien Relative," said Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono in a statement.
“I call on the Department of Homeland Security to process the Magana Ortiz family’s application to bring Andres out of the shadows as quickly as possible to keep Andres together with his wife and kids,” she said.
Magana Ortiz was relieved to hear he'd have a few more weeks with this family.
"All I can say is that I'm pretty happy," he said after the hearing. "It was very stressful. But I got a little bit of relief."
He is not out of the woods just yet.
Magana Ortiz, 43, still faces deportation to Mexico — and a 10-year ban into the country after living in the U.S. for almost three decades. He serves as the latest example of the Trump administration's aggressive effort to crack down on illegal immigration to, in the words of the president, "restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders."
Magana Ortiz came to the country illegally as a 15-year old in 1989 and has since become a notable coffee farmer in Hawaii's Kona region. He even aided the U.S. Department of Agriculture by giving it free access to his farm to conduct a five-year study on crop pests.
He has fathered three children — all of them U.S. citizens because they were born in Hawaii — and married his current wife last year.
He fears his deportation could shatter his family.
“They are in pain,” he said of his family, adding that they were too distraught for words the morning before he left. “They couldn’t talk."
A removal proceeding for Magana Ortiz initially began in 2011, but he was granted permission to stay. For the last year, the coffee farmer has zealously pursued U.S. legal status through his wife’s and children’s citizenship.
But before anything could materialize, federal officials ordered him to report for removal in March — and he calmly obliged.
A 9th Circuit Court judge denied Magana Ortiz's request to remain in the country earlier this month, citing a lack of authority on the matter, but not without a passionate plea in the form of sharp rebuke to the administration that called the move “inhumane.”
"President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the 'bad hombres," said Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a legal opinion. The government decision in the immigration case "shows that even the 'good hombres' are not safe."
"He will be returned to Mexico, having spent 28 years successfully building a life and family in this country," Reinhardt said. "The government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family,” he said.
Hawaii’s congressional delegation has been vigorously fighting the deportation and sent a joint letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Monday.
“Mr. Magana Ortiz is an upstanding member of our community and does not belong in the category of dangerous individuals who should be prioritized for deportation, “ wrote Hawaii Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono along with Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa. "The Department has the power to keep this family together, or break this family apart."
For now, Magana Ortiz gets to return to his family for just a little longer — knowing that he'll have to do it all over again in one month.