On Monday, a Charlotte father facing deportation learned he may get the chance to become an American citizen after all.
Nicolas Antonio pleaded his case before an immigration judge Monday morning. The case was continued but Eyewitness News learned how it could mean Antonio's stay in Charlotte for good.
The decision to continue Antonio's case was made in less than five minutes.
But for him it means the possibility of a second chance at life, chance at American citizenship. When we spoke to him he could hardly contain his excitement. He spoke to us through a translator.
"I'm ecstatic right now because I got what every immigrant who's facing this tough situation desires" he said.
For now, Nicolas is able to dodged deportation until his next court hearing on June 12.
It buys him more time to fight the case after a speeding ticket led to his arrest for not having a license. Antonio says it's the only trouble he's had with the law since he moved here eight years ago. Monday the judge decided to hold off on a decision until immigration and customs enforcement can fully review the evidence against him.
"I know this is only a temporary but this is a small step for me."
But Nicolas's fate won't be determined by a judge, it instead depends on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutors, who are also in the courtroom advising the judges. In his hearing Nicholas's lawyer says the ICE prosecutor told her she didn't want to close the case but said her decision was overruled by a superior.
The group Families Unidas sent the national office a petition with nearly 2000 signatures; they also called and sent faxes asking for his freedom. Antonio and his family feel like the community support is what made the difference.
All Nicolas has to do is get a background check and wait on ICE's decision. If it doesn't find anything, it could close his case before his next hearing.
In the meantime, Antonio says his wife can relax and focus on her pregnancy. He's just hoping today's decision will mean he'll get the chance to see the birth of his first son and the opportunity to live here in Charlotte for good