NEW YORK - Despite residing in the United States since he was 3, now 57-year-old Robert Panton met with ICE officials in Lower Manhattan Wednesday, because he is on the verge of being deported.
"Because of a felony for a nonviolent drug offense that I have 30 years ago, I served the time for it," Panton said. "I'm rehabilitated. My judge said I'm the type of guy that needs to be in the community giving back."
Panton is a member of several anti-violence organizations including "Lead By Example," and even started one of his own.
Wednesday's meeting at the ICE field office was to be fitted for an ankle bracelet for monitoring. Harlem has been Panton's home since his family came over from Jamaica when he was a child and ICE officials say that's where he must return.
"And my life now has been beautiful up until this point where I'm threatened with deportation to a country I don't even know. I have no family in Jamaica," Panton said.
What he does have is strong ties to New York City, including a son in the NYPD, as well as support from Senate majority leader Charles Schumer and Rep. Adriano Espiallat, which he and his supporters hope ICE officials will take into consideration.
Wednesday's appointment didn't have the outcome Panton and his supporters were hoping for, and he is basically on borrowed time in the United States.
"So we're waiting around and we're hoping that the better judgment comes on the part of those who make the decisions," Panton said.
His attorneys plan to appeal to the White House for intervention. Without such, he will have to leave the country by March of next year.