SANTA ANA, Calif. - Alvaro Benitez walked out of the federal building in Santa Ana and hugged two of his children, overcome by emotion.
The Orange County father of four met with officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about his deportation order.
"It was really hard the past three days, but right now I feel better because at least I have another month with my family. We'll see what happens next month," Benitez said.
A decision on whether or not the Huntington Beach resident can stay in the U.S. was pushed back to next month.
Benitez crossed the border from Mexico illegally in 1991. His lawyer said he was detained by ICE agents at an Arizona airport and a removal order was issued in 2015. His lawyer said he has no criminal record.
"I never do something wrong in this country because I love this country," he said. "I just want to be with my family, working to support them."
A crowd of supporters chanted Benitez's name during his proceedings. The group of immigration activists, faith leaders and his friends are hopeful he will get to stay in the U.S.
"We are still strategizing and trying to see what we can do administratively to get him legal status and legalized in the United States," said Monica Crooms, an immigration attorney who is representing Benitez.
An ICE spokesperson issued the following statement:
"Mr. Benitez's removal order became final in April 2014. Over a span of seven years, his immigration case underwent review at multiple levels of our nation's legal system, including the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In all instances, the legal bodies held Mr. Benitez had no legal basis to remain in the U.S."
ICE is currently reviewing a stay of removal filed by Benitez and his attorney.
"He is a member of the community that is respected, he's very active," Crooms said.
Benitez's next hearing with ICE is scheduled for Oct. 23.