Favorite

UA Honors College senior faces deportation 

Dream Act would have spared him.

ON ICE: Honors student Chavez is detained in Florida.
  • ON ICE: Honors student Chavez is detained in Florida.

Jonathan Chavez is a popular student in the Honors College at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. The president of the International Student Christian Association, he is only a couple of semesters shy of graduating. He aspires to sing opera.

But Chavez didn't return to school after the Christmas break. Instead, he is being held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and faces deportation to Peru, where he was born.

Chavez was brought as a youngster to Rogers by his parents, who came to the U.S. from Peru with tourist visas. He graduated from high school there with a 4.0 GPA, friends say. He is seeking a degree in vocal performance at the U of A, friends say. (Bob McMath, dean of the Honors College, said the law prevented him from discussing Chavez, even revealing his major.)

Chavez attempted to begin a naturalization process at 17, but he turned 18 before it could be complete, leaving him in undocumented limbo. (UPDATE: Chavez' lawyer says undocumented minors may not self-petition to be naturalized.) Ironically, his parents, who divorced and are now married to American citizens, are in the United States legally, friends say.

Chavez had traveled by bus over Christmas to visit his mother in Florida when he was caught in an ICE "roundup," random sweeps in areas with high Hispanic populations. When he couldn't produce documents, he was taken to a facility in Fort Lauderdale.

That was four weeks ago, says Elaine Edwards, who gave Chavez voice lessons when he was a high school senior and has advocated for him since, helping him with college applications and now providing moral support through the open Facebook page "Praying for Jonathan Chavez." The page provides his address and was used to generate a letter-writing campaign to ask authorities that he not be deported. U of A assistant general counsel Scott Varady said Chavez' lawyer, Sandy Lambert, told him that she received "glowing" letters about him that were "unparalleled in her experience." To date, the U of A has had no formal comment on Chavez. Varady said the university did not know he was undocumented.

Chavez has a deportation hearing on Thursday. Edwards said his lawyer will ask for "deferred action," to allow Chavez to graduate.

Steve James, who was a co-counselor with Chavez at a camp in Northwest Arkansas and is now the youth minister at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan., described Chavez as an uplifting individual with an "infectious personality. ... When you hang out with Jon you just feel good."

James spoke on the phone with Chavez about a week ago. Chavez told him "it was the best Christmas break he ever had," because he'd been able to take part in four Bible study groups and had translated passages of the Bible for non-English speaking persons incarcerated there. "He said he sees God working through the guys" at the ICE facility. Chavez is a member of Christ on Campus at Fayetteville.

James said Chavez is "the kind of guy you would want to be an American citizen. He exemplifies what it means to be an American, to work for a better life for yourself and a better life for others."

"He does not want to go back to Peru if he can help it, but he understands it's out of his control," James said.

Had Congress passed the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act last December, Chavez would have been eligible to apply for citizenship. The law would have allowed undocumented persons who arrived in the U.S. as minors to earn permanent residency after completing two years in college or the military.

Chavez has a plan if he is deported, Edwards said. He wants to continue his singing; his voice is "magnificent," she said. She'd like it to be heard in America.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Support Central High School's art program: Shop tonight

    Call it #givingThursdayto Central High: The art faculty and students at Central High School are selling their work TONIGHT to raise money to buy art supplies for the school. The prices range from $1 up! There will also be a silent auction of work by Central High instructors Jason McCann, Amanda Heinbockel, Leron McAdoo, Loni Rainey, Stacey Mitchell, Don Enderson, Karen Terry and Rex DeLoney, and LRCH alumni Laura Raborn, Jennifer Perren, Lizzie Gillum and others.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Santa-sized 2nd Friday Art Night: Richard Leo Johnson, Rex Deloney, McLeod anniversary, the Nog-Off and more

    Prepare for a busy 2nd Friday Art Night tomorrow night, where folks will be celebrating Matt McLeod Fine Art's first anniversary, listening to the Arkansas Chamber Singers at the Old State House Museum, prefacing a performance by Richard Leo Johnson with an exhibition of his photographs at the Butler Center Galleries, hearing a talk and demonstration by Robert Bean about his creative process at Arkansas Capital Corp., and slinging back eggnog while seeing new works by Rex Deloney at the Historic Arkansas Museum. Read more about Johnson, the Chamber Singers and 2nd Friday Art Night here.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Pantry's Bohm buys Hillcrest Artisan Meats

    Tomas Bohm, owner of Czech and German eateries The Pantry in West Little Rock and The Pantry Crest in Hillcrest, will take over the space now occupied by Hillcrest Artisan Meats at 2807 Kavanaugh Blvd. next year. Brandon Brown and his wife, Tara Protiva-Brown, will continue to operate H.A.M. until the end of the year; Bohm hopes to reopen under a new name sometime in February.
    • Dec 6, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
  • Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave

    Amid Department of Arkansas Heritage project.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation