Mark Farrales was brought to the United States illegally at age 10 in 1990.
Mark Farrales, a 31-year-old Harvard graduate and doctoral candidate at UC San Diego, has been granted a one-year reprieve from his deportation to the Philippines and has been released from a Lancaster detention facility.
Farrales, who was brought to the United States illegally at age 10 in 1990, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at his home in Reseda last month. He was released from custody last week after Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) urged ICE to defer action on the deportation order and allow the Board of Immigration Appeals to revisit the case.
"Much to their credit, they agreed," Sherman said.
His chief of staff had already been reviewing the matter when Sherman himself learned of Farrales' situation from a Los Angeles Times article.
Mark Farrales was brought to the United States just days after two alleged hit men shot his father twice in the head outside their home in Quezon City. His father, Jaime Farrales, was a prominent lawyer who often spoke out against government corruption and had just announced a bid for office.
Jaime Farrales survived and fled with his family to Los Angeles on travel visas, seeking political asylum. A series of legal missteps and poor advice caused Jaime Farrales to have his political asylum application denied, said Leon Hazany, Mark Farrales' attorney.
When Jaime Farrales died in 2006, Hazany said, Mark was left without legal status.
Sherman said the circumstances in which the younger Farrales arrived in the country and the success he has had compelled the congressman to act.
"It's clearly in our national interest that young people who came here through no fault of their own and have proven themselves to be the good citizens of the future should be a part of this country," Sherman said.
Farrales said he planned to finish his dissertation on government corruption reform at UC San Diego. "It took days for it to sink in how lucky I am," he said. "But being allowed to stay here is not guaranteed."
Deferred action is used in cases that involve compelling and humanitarian issues to allow the individual additional time to pursue legal options, ICE said in a statement.
A year could be enough time to secure citizenship for Farrales, but it will be difficult, Hazany said. "I think his case is strong," he said. "But it's not what I think that matters; it's up to the Board of Immigration Appeals."
Farrales is relieved to be home and surrounded by family and friends. "The legal struggle is going to be there regardless and it's going to be long, arduous and tiresome," he said. "But it's a lot easier to fight on the outside than it is from the inside."