$20K raised to help Panton farmer fight deportation

PANTON — The GoFundMe campaign in support of Juan De La Cruz, a Panton resident of Mexican birth, farm owner and father of six who is facing deportation, has met its $20,000 fundraising goal.
As reported in the June 15 issue of the Independent, the funds raised via the campaign webpage are being used to cover De La Cruz’s legal costs as he fights to stay in the country.
Last month, when De La Cruz went to his annual check-in with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly referred to as ICE, he was told he would be deported immediately. However, the authorities reconsidered and allowed him 30 days to get his affairs in order. They told him that he would be deported on July 6.
However, with help from the more than 280 individuals who donated to the campaign, De La Cruz, as first reported in Seven Days, is now being represented by attorney Matthew Kolken and has remained in the country.
With Kolken’s help, according to a July 6 story in Seven Days, De La Cruz is now seeking asylum. Kolken presented his client’s case to an asylum officer, who then allowed De La Cruz a chance to plead his case before an immigration judge. A time and place for the hearing have yet to be set.
The Independent reached out to Kolken,  a Buffalo, N.Y., attorney who specializes in U.S. immigration and nationality law, to discuss the upcoming case, however, he said he was not authorized to share the details of the case.
On July 4, Kim Haigis of Ferrisburgh, who created the webpage, updated donors on the family’s situation.
“There is good news for the De La Cruz family on this July 4th. The Asylum Officer agreed that Juan has a need for asylum. He will be able to go before a judge in Boston to plead his case,” she wrote. “Thank you all for your donations and support so that Juan and Kirsten (Juan’s wife) could hire an experienced attorney. Together they have more hurdles to jump but the asylum meeting outcome is good news.”
Donors responded with well wishes.
“This family has a special place in my heart as my children have grown up with theirs. I have been able to help Kirstin with her daycare and with being involved with the family so closely,” wrote Laurie Aunchman. “I have witnessed how great of a father, husband and friend Juan is. I’m praying that this family won’t be broken up. Sending love to you all!”
“Please let us all know if there is a way we can help to support your family in person at the hearing, or if there’s anything more your community can do to help,” wrote Tisha Shull.
“Good luck,” wrote Pauline Motley. “We are so glad you live in Vermont.” 

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