Oct 3, 2013 11:33 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Gov't shutdown extends AZ man's time in custody

TUCSON- The government shutdown is hitting close to home for one Tucson Family.

They say Gilberto Nunez-Pelayo, 29, is falling through the court system's cracks.

Nunez-Pelayo was released last Thursday from state prison, after serving four years for drug and domestic violence charges. His family admits he has made his mistakes, but he served his time and now he should be free.

The only problem is Nunez-Pelayo isn't a United States Citizen. As is custom, after his release he was taken into ICE custody to await a hearing that will determine whether he can return to Mexico, or stay in Tucson, where he has lived with his family since age three.

Nunez-Pelayo had a immigration hearing scheduled for October 2 in Tucson, but because of the shutdown nobody showed up to court.

That means despite being a free man, Nunez-Pelayo is now in custody indefinitely, waiting for his court date. "The government needs to make up its mind," Sister Priscilla Del Toro says. "It's not our fault. My brother has to be in Mexico or stay here."

"How would you react if that was your sibling? How would you react if that was your loved one?" Demitri Downing says.

Downing is Nunez-Pelayo's lawyer, working pro bono.

For the past few days he has been trying to find out when Nunez-Pelayo can head to court. The problem is that anytime he calls a DHS spokesperson he receives a voicemail which says: "I will be out of the office starting October 1, 2013 due to the federal government hiatus."

"No hearing, no trial, no phone calls," Downing says. "It kind of left Gilberto in no man's land."

"We have to know something about what is going to happen," Del Toro says. "The sooner, the better."

Tucson's immigration court is one of 16 nationwide closed because of the shutdown. There are two immigration courts still open in Arizona, including the one in Eloy and Florence.

Downing says he's trying to get his client's case moved to the Eloy court, however he is being directed by the court to call DHS, which gets him nowhere.


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