The Arrest 

alonso chehade immigration campaign

On the morning of March 15, 2009, after leaving a friend's house in Bellingham and heading back to Seattle, a friend and I, not being familiar with the area, took a wrong turn on the highway. By the time we noticed we were heading north rather than south, there was one more exit to turn around before the U.S. Customs point of entry in Blaine, WA.

This exit was blocked by construction which left us no choice except than turning around behind the port of entry to head back south. I was stopped by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities after discovering that I was in the United States with an overstayed visa. Then I was charged and arrested for unlawful presence in the United States and sent to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. After two weeks, I was released due to support letters of family and friends; and my parents who posted a $7,500 bail bond. One month later (May 28, 2009), I was ordered on an immigration court hearing to leave the country by September 25, 2009. 

To learn more about my journey as an immigrant, see early life and college bio here.

The Campaign

On June 18, 2009, I launched a campaign with my friend Krista Jensen to stop my deportation that gained two pro-bono attorneys, Shannon Underwood and Karol Brown, and local and national support through the use of social media that led to national media attention.

On September 15, 2009 a deferred action request was submitted, and 17 inches of faxed letters were sent from local and national support including Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, Congressman Jim McDermott, and other local and national leaders (see full list)—but the local immigration authorities denied the request on September 23, 2009.

On the same day, Congressman McDermott introduced private bill H.R.3638 on my behalf attempting to deferred my deportation which failed after stagnating for consideration.

The Deferred Action

On September 24, 2009, my deportation was delayed to November 16, 2009 by a sua sponte legal filing from the Global Justice Law Group. On November 10, 2009 the Department of Homeland Security granted me an extension until January 5, 2009 after a meeting between Senator Cantwell and Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, John T. Morton.  On December 2, 2009, Senator Cantwell pressed on Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to revisit my case, which she agreed to review.

On January 4, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security grants me a second extension until February 16, 2010. On February 12, 2010, four days before my last extension, my deportation was delayed indefinitely and granted a work authorization.

My immigration case has been featured in