A whirlwind trip to D.C., pizza, Coca-Cola, and even some prayer. That's what a Guatemalan teen got after his release from detention.
U.S. immigration authorities freed 18-year-old Bernard Pastor on Friday after nearly a month. He had been jailed after authorities discovered he was undocumented following a minor auto accident. His deportation has been put off indefinitely, after his attorney filed a request for deferred status.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports immigration reform advocates flew him to Washington on Friday to promote legislation called the DREAM Act that would provide conditions for a path to citizenship for similar undocumented youths. Pastor has been in this country since age 3. The measure, which passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month, failed in the Senate.Saturday after Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster and move forward with a debate and vote on the bill.
Pastor graduated from Reading High School as an honor student and star soccer player and says he considers himself an American, with few ties left to the homeland he left as child. Students, church members, and immigration advocates rallied publicly on his behalf during his time behind bars, saying his deportation would serve no useful purpose.
At home, he thanked his supporters, prayed with them, then joined a late-night Saturday celebration with pizzas and Cokes.
"It's just so good to be home," said Pastor, who was also reunited with his parents, who have been keeping a low profile since his arrest. A federal judge rejected his father's bid for political asylum several years ago.
Word of Pastor's release spread quickly through the southwest Ohio Hispanic community. At San Carlos Borromeo Catholic Church in Cincinnati, the Rev. Jorge Ochoa told his congregation about it during Mass on Saturday.
"The DREAM Act did not pass, but the dream has not died," Ochoa said. "We are going to continue to work and pray for all of the dreamers."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.