A congressman was seeking deportation of a Mexican family after he read an article about how one son couldn't afford college because federal law bans financial aid for illegal immigrants.
Rep. Tom Tancredo said he contacted the Immigration and Naturalization Service and asked that Jesus Apodaca, 18, and any other undocumented relatives be deported.
Mike Comfort, director of the Denver INS office, confirmed the agency had been contacted by Tancredo but would not comment on how it will respond.
Apodaca, the son of a ranch hand, was featured in an Aug. 11 Denver Post story about the federal law. In the story, Apodaca said he and his family had been in the country illegally for five years. The honor student graduated last spring from a suburban Denver high school.
Apodaca's father, mother and four siblings are illegal immigrants, family members have said. Two other siblings are U.S. residents.
"It is a very bad idea to reward people for breaking your law," said Tancredo, a Republican who advocates tighter immigration laws.
Meanwhile, an anonymous donor offered to pay for Apodaca's first semester at the University of Colorado at Denver. Apodaca wants to study computer science.
Most Colorado universities admit students regardless of immigration status, although they must pay out-of-state tuition.
Apodaca's family fled their home briefly after Tancredo called INS.
"I wish I had him here, face to face. I'd ask him, `Do I seem like a bad person? Does my son seem like a bad person?''' said Apodaca's mother, Maria Madrid. "All I've ever wanted is that my son fulfills his dream'' of going to college.
Former Gov. Dick Lamm, who backs stricter immigration controls, said targeting one family rather than overall immigration policy could backfire.
"This violates people's sense of fairness,'' Lamm said.
"This is an arrogant use of power,'' said Mario Hernandez, a spokesman for the Mexican consulate in Denver. "This family is looking to improve the lives of their children.''