Luis Zarco of Charlotte, N.C., was recently awarded a green card after fighting deportation from the United States for the last two years. According to Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC, Zarco was close to deportation, but with the help of his community and family members, the father of three will be allowed to stay in the U.S.
Since 2011, Zarco has been living with the fear of being deported by U.S. law enforcement authorities. He was arrested for running a red light two years ago. In addition to the traffic violation, Zarco was driving on an expired license, according to the source.
Zarco was driving on an expired license because undocumented residents cannot renew their credentials at a Department of Motor Vehicle facility. After a 2006 law, North Carolina residents who cannot show proof of citizenship are not issued a driver’s license.
If Zarco had been deported, he would have left behind his wife and three daughters in the country. He works a construction job during the week and uses his weekends to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity.
The decision comes as a bit of a surprise even to Zarco’s lawyer, who believes that without the help of community support and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the ruling would not have been favorable for his client. According to Charlotte CBS affiliate WBTV, the support of local residents helped the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and the judge allow Zarco to stay in the country.
“I’ve been doing this 15 years, first time I’ve seen something like this where the judge was prepared to deny and they overrode that decision,” Chris Greene, Zarco’s lawyer, told WBTV.
Zarco will now have a green card, allowing him to live and work in the country. He will be eligible to apply for citizenship in five years.