CHICAGO (CBS) — A restaurant owner from southwestern Michigan has been given a temporary reprieve from deportation, which had been looming over the Christmas weekend until a last-minute delay on Wednesday.
“We can have a merry Christmas,” Ibrahim Parlak said at a candlelight vigil that turned into a celebration at his restaurant, Café Gulistan, in Harbert, Mich., after receiving word that the Department of Homeland Security extended his deferral of deportation for 90 days. It had been set to expire on Christmas Eve.
Parlak has said he came to the U.S. from Turkey in 1991, after he was thrown in prison there and tortured for alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which was classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. in 1997.
In 2004, Parlak was arrested for lying on his green card application about having been in prison, and he has fought deportation ever since, saying he would be jailed, tortured, and killed if he were sent back to Turkey.
“It’s a lot better than being worried are they going to be picking me up tomorrow?” he said. “I want to be in charge of my life.”