A Portland man who is fighting deportation is scheduled to speak at a rally this afternoon in Monument Square, in support of a bill in Congress that could help him and thousands of other young people earn legal status in the United States.

Selvin Arevalo, 24, was detained by federal immigration agents in April after he fled from a minor accident involving his work van.

Arevalo came to this country from Guatemala when he was 15 years old to earn money to support his mother and siblings. He learned English, joined a church in Portland, went to school at night and was arrested a few months before he was scheduled to receive his high school equivalency diploma.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiated deportation proceedings against Arevalo. He was detained for about seven months, first in the Cumberland County Jail in Portland and then in Suffolk County in Massachusetts.

Arevalo was released on $2,000 bond last week after a hearing in Boston before Immigration Judge Robin Feder. Arevalo has applied for asylum in hopes of staying in Maine.

“The asylum case is going to be difficult to win,” said Kyle de Beaussette, a member of the Boston-based Student Immigration Movement. Beaussette has been an outspoken advocate for Arevalo, organizing phone and letter-writing campaigns to Maine’s senators and Department of Homeland Security officials.

Beaussette said Arevalo’s best chance of avoiding deportation would be passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors bill, also known as the DREAM Act, in the Senate.

For undocumented people who came to this country as minors, the bill would help them earn legal permanent residency and citizenship, provided that they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character and complete either two years in college or military service.

The proposal was part of the defense authorization bill that was blocked by a Republican filibuster in September. It’s expected to come up again in the lame-duck session of Congress, as a standalone bill or yet again as part of a revised defense authorization bill.

“If we don’t get the DREAM Act passed, we will continue to fight for Selvin and argue that DHS should not deport him,” Beaussette said. “He is a very religious person, and just has faith. His kind of attitude is that he will do his best, and he will be in the place God wants him to be.”

Along with Arevalo, several undocumented young people from Massachusetts and New York are scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. today in Monument Square. Beaussette, who helped organize the event, said they hope to have an impact on the votes of Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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