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Apr 18, 6:09 PM EDT

Man gets deportation reprieve after drawing clergy support

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey grandfather facing potential deportation for being in the United States illegally has been given a reprieve.

Customs officials in Newark have approved a one-year stay of removal for Catalino Guerrero, a resident of Union City whose case drew support from numerous clergy leaders and New Jersey's two Democratic U.S. senators who oppose recent immigration actions under President Donald Trump.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the head of the Newark archdiocese, the state's largest, led a rally last month on the day Guerrero met with customs officials.

Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, who were informed of the decision last week, praised the move. Booker said Trump's policies "callously target" people like Guerrero.

Menendez said cases like Guerrero's "remind us why exercising prosecutorial discretion on a case-by case basis to refine deportation priorities and defer deportations for those who do not pose a public safety risk, are more important than ever."

Guerrero came to the U.S. illegally from Mexico in 1991 and has worked and paid taxes, owns his house and has no criminal record. He has four children and four grandchildren. Guerrero applied for a work permit several years ago but filled out a form incorrectly, Menendez said last month.

He also has diabetes and suffered a stroke several years ago, his attorney said.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said last month that Guerrero was ordered removed from the U.S. in 2009 and must periodically report to ICE as a condition of his release.

Guerrero, who has four children and four grandchildren, "puts a face" to what is often treated as "statistics or demons," Tobin said before last month's hearing.

"You can see what Catalino looks like, and you've heard how he has lived," Tobin said. "We're now going to ask the officials determining his fate to not only see his face but ours as well."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a steady stream of criticisms of Trump's restrictions on refugees and immigrants. Other faith groups, including a network of 37 Protestant and Orthodox denominations that work with the aid group Church World Service, are mobilizing their congregations to fight Trump's policies.

Hundreds of houses of worship around the country have joined the sanctuary movement, which provides support or housing to people facing deportation.

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