ATLANTA -- For years, Mario Guevara has called Atlanta home. But two weeks ago, he was told he must leave the country by August 20 or face deportation.
Guevara, an immigration reporter with local newspaper Mundo Hispanico, came to the United States in March of 2004, seeking asylum. He says he was attacked twice in El Salvador, his native country,because he is a journalist. When threats continued, he brought his wife and young daughter to the U.S.
He says they applied for asylum, but his case was delayed. In the meantime, he and his wife received work permits, started new jobs and gave birth to two sons.
But two weeks ago, Guevara went before a judge and learned his family's asylum request had been denied. He was told they have 60 days to leave the country "voluntarily" or face deportation.
"[The judge] don't take account of my work, he don't take account of my moral character, he don't talk about my kids," Guevara said.
"I feel as a citizen of the United States," he added. "I love this country."
He says the judge told him because the attacks were nine years ago, Guevara would now be safe in El Salvador.
Vincent Picard, a spokesman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency will close Guevara's case in the coming weeks. Picard said that means ICE will not deport Guevara or his family, but itdoes nothing to change their immigration status.
Guevara has a work permit that he renews annually. His current permit is good through December 2012.