CARDIFF, Calif. (KGTV) - A North San Diego County carpenter once hailed a local hero for risking his own life to save another man is in custody, facing deportation.
At a construction site in Cardiff, there was plenty of commotion on Tuesday morning, as federal agents zeroed in on Pamir Kurti.
"I feel so much sadness and it breaks my heart," said Kurti's brother Ardian.
Albania 1997. Chaos and civil war break out as a Socialist faction topples the Democratic government.
Ardian Kurti says both he and another brother were tortured for months after a demonstration against the Socialists.
Seeking asylum, he crossed illegally into San Diego in 2001, before filing a petition.
He says after his first hearing, the court - in a mix-up - never scheduled a next court date. Seven years went by before he would next see a court.
His asylum request was denied as conditions in his homeland improved. Then came a DUI conviction in 2008.
A few years later, Kurti dragged a SDG&E subcontractor - shocked by a power line - to safety, receiving several awards, including one from Carlsbad Fire.
Still, he faced a deportation order. By 2014, he exhausted his appeals, leading to his detainment a few days ago.
Supporters have set up a Facebook page in hopes of a reprieve for Kurti.
I.C.E issued the following statement:
Mr. Kurti was taken into custody Aug. 29 by deportation officers assigned to one of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Fugitive Operations Teams[ice.gov]. He was targeted for arrest based upon his immigration and criminal history. Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Mr. Kurti was originally ordered removed in 2008 by an immigration judge with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Subsequently, Mr. Kurti appealed his case to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. His removal order became final in 2014 after both of legal bodies upheld the original immigration judge’s decision. In addition to a final order of removal, Mr. Kurti also has a prior conviction for DUI. He remains in ICE custody while the agency makes arrangements to execute the court-issued removal order.