Feds deport NJ man whose parents fled communism when he was 2
NEW BRUNSWICK — A 27-year-old New Jersey man who has known no other home but the United States has been deported to Bulgaria.
Eni Entchev was deported this week after being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Nov. 15. His father and advocates say Entchev has no criminal record.
Entchev came to New Jersey in 1993 when he was 2 years old. His father, who entered the United States with a visa to study at Rutgers University, brought his wife, son and daughter with him and tried to remain here to live in freedom. Their timing, however, was off.
The communist state of Bulgaria fell in 1990 amid the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But Entchev's father told the Asbury Park Press that he feared that remnants of the regime were resurgent during the difficult transition. His application for asylum, however, was rejected and the family has spent the years since fighting to remain in the country and earn citizenship.
All the while, New Jersey became Entchev's home.
Entchev said that while growing up he had no clue he wasn't a U.S. citizen. He found out when he tried to apply for a driver's license when he was 17.
News of the deportation spread this week, with Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, tagging President Donald Trump in a message on Twitter.
"If this story is accurate it should offend every American," O'Scanlon said Saturday. "That we haven’t fixed a law that destroys lives of innocent people - or made accommodation for those people pending resolution - is shameful. This must stop."
Entchev's removal from the country comes as many wait for Congress to take action after Trump in September terminated the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which had allowed people who had been brought to the United States as children and lacked legal status, to remain indefinitely. DACA recipients are often referred to as "dreamers."
An estimated 11,500 DACA recipients have lost their legal protection since September.
Entchev's detention this month was not the first time he has spent time behind bars on an immigration matter.
He said that he and his father were detained for 65 days before they were released during the Obama administration.
"I came here as a very young child and this country is all I ever knew," he said during an immigration rights rally a few months after his release from detention in 2011. "I only speak English and I know six words in Bulgarian."
The Press reported that he was detained last month after he went to an ICE office for a "routine check in."
Entchev is engaged to be married to a New Brunswick woman, the Asbury Park Press reported. He was working as an auto mechanic in North Brunswick.
His father is raising money online to help defray legal and living expenses overseas.