A Massachusetts man who faces deportation to his native El Salvador spoke publicly on Friday about his release from a Boston jail.
Francisco Rodriguez, 43, was released Thursday from the South Bay House of Correction after his lawyers were able to reach an agreement with the US Attorney’s Office. His lawyers said his deportation has been stayed pending their request to reopen his asylum case.
"I was thinking what can I do in jail on Christmas," Rodriguez told reporters at a news conference on Friday. "I feel very happy today. That's the most fabulous gift that I have of my life."
Rodriguez, of Chelsea, was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 13 after declining to renew the temporary authorizations that allowed him to remain in the country since 2006.
While he is thankful for the present, his future remains unclear.
"Our work on behalf of Francisco continues," said one of his attorneys, John Bennett.
Prior to him being detained, Rodriguez, a father of four US-born children, had worked for five years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a custodian.
Representatives of his union at MIT and other community members attended the news conference to show their support.
"This Christmas reunion sends a clear message that when we stand together we can win," said Otoniel Figuero-Duran.
An ICE spokesman says Rodriguez was released with a GPS monitoring device.
His case sparked protests across Boston this summer, including from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Congressman Mike Capuano.
Rodriguez says being home is a step in the right direction.
His family said they are "overjoyed" to be reunited for the holidays.
"My daughter says, 'The best gift we have is you here with us daddy.' And that's my gift too," Rodriguez said.