Resident detained to be deported

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

For Eddie Cortez, a 26-year-old resident of Greenville, his meeting with the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Naturalization office on April 22 was supposed to be the last leg of a long journey to become an American citizen.

Instead Cortex was detained and told he would be deported back to Mexico.

Cortez has been a resident of Greenville for four years, and has been employed by Boan Construction as a site supervisor for the past three years.

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Greenville Police Sergeant Justin Lovvorn describes Cortez as a model citizen and an asset to our community.

&uot;I consider Eddie a part of my family,&uot; Lovvorn said. &uot;He is one of the most dedicated, hard-working, Christian men I have ever met in my life. It is unthinkable that this is happening to him.&uot;

Lovvorn said that Cortez has been working with the INS to legally obtain citizenship after entering the country and being deported several years ago.

&uot;For the past three years, he has been working with them, paying additional fees for every form they required,&uot; Lovvorn said. &uot;This was supposed to be his last meeting, but instead they told him that a form he filled out three months ago hasn’t been processed and his time is up. They have placed him in a holding facility in Etowah County with several illegal aliens waiting for deportation. This just isn’t fair. He was trying to do the right thing.&uot;

Several area dignitaries, including Mayor Dexter McLendon and Police Chief Lonzo Ingram have written letters in Cortez’ defense. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby also has been petitioned to speak on his behalf and has reportedly made calls to the Atlanta INS office.

In a call to INS official, Perry Zarner, who is in charge of Cortez while he is being held at the Etowah County Detention Facility, Zarner stated that individuals who are awaiting naturalization are usually only deported if they have committed a crime, but declined to comment further. No officials in INS’ Atlanta offices were available for comment.

Lovvorn said that he understands the immigration officials are doing their jobs, but that he also knows that there are regulations that

allow individuals to stay with their families while application issues are being resolved.

&uot;I don’t understand why they won’t do that for Eddie,&uot; he said.

Cortez has a wife and 13-month-old son. His wife, Lisa, is a Greenville native.

Lovvorn and other Greenville area residents are circulating petitions requesting Cortez’ release that will be submitted to Sen. Shelby for delivery to the Atlanta INS office.