By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Efforts by a local law firm have succeeded in halting the deportation of a native Brazilian who was facing death threats for having assisted the United States government in apprehending “coyotes” — the syndicates illegally transporting aliens across the border.
The McDaniel Law Office, working with Manchester immigration attorney George Bruno, received word on Friday that the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit had granted a temporary stay of Attorney General Jefferson Sessions’ order to deport Renato Filippi.
“He was scheduled to fly to his executioners in Brazil on Monday, but now he won’t be on that plane,” said Bob McDaniel.
McDaniel said the legal team had been given 24 hours to file a response to the federal government’s motion to dismiss Filippi’s petition for a stay of deportation. The temporary stay will mean that any future legal action “will be orderly and disciplined,” McDaniel said.
Filippi was being deported for having entered the country illegally in 2002. He had cooperated with federal officials who asked him to help them apprehend human traffickers in exchange for receiving a Social Security card, driver’s license, and work authorization papers that would allow him to stay in the United States indefinitely, as long as he committed no crimes. His wife and daughter subsequently entered the country legally and they now have U.S. citizenship.
When word got out that Filippi was helping the U.S. government, Brazilian gang leaders put a price on his head, prompting him to file for amnesty and relief under the United Nations Convention on Torture in 2014. An immigration judge denied his petition, and his appeal to settle his immigration status also was denied.
Filippi currently has private-sector employment with a Manchester company, and he checks in regularly with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Queen City office. During his September check-in, he was surprised to be ordered to leave the country by Nov. 6.
McDaniel and Bruno filed a federal lawsuit to halt his deportation, but were getting nowhere and, with time running out, they petitioned the First Circuit court to intercede.
“The threats and promises of harm were of such intensity [following media reports about the case] that Mr. Filippi moved the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen his immigration matters on the basis of these new events and on the changed country conditions in Brazil, whose government and criminal underground have become more interwoven since his first appeal,” they wrote.
In seeking a dismissal of the case, the Attorney General’s Office argued that Filippi had not yet exhausted his administrative remedies.
McDaniel responded, “In the remaining four days the Respondents suggest that Mr. Filippi will be able to receive due process and fundamental fairness when the Respondents are fully aware that this is a fiction.”
The filing goes on to describe the administrative hurdles thrown in Filippi’s path during the past two months, including requests for fees that were then said to be unnecessary, having the wrong information in his case file, and a Catch-22 situation where “Mr. Filippi will be deported if he does not get a stay … he cannot get a stay because he is not in custody [and] will be deported.”
“It is reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts demanding ‘Sentence first — verdict afterwards.’ First we will deport Mr. Filippi, then, later, we might decide if he can stay.”
The attorneys also note that, if he leaves the country, he waives his rights to an appeal of any decision in his case.
The court granted Filippi’s petition for a stay in order to “give the court the opportunity to review the matter further” and wrote, “Removal is temporarily stayed pending further order of this court.”
“That’s spectacular news for us,” said McDaniel.
He said that, with the stay, Filippi can resume his life with his family and job, but he will still be required to report to the ICE office. “But in the meantime, we will be doing everything we can to get his immigration status settled,” he said.
There is a possibility that the Justice Department in Washington will enter a motion for reconsideration of the court’s decision, but McDaniel said such motions are routinely denied.
“They could come in with a renewed motion to dismiss our petition, but I don’t care because I won’t be under the pressure I was yesterday when I was given 24 hours to respond,” he said.