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Orcas Island tries to protect skilled immigrant facing deportation

Robert Gibbs was quoted on the following Seattle Times article.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023341545_undocumentedorcasxml.html

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times

People on Orcas Island are uniting around the sole operator of a small family-run sawmill there, saying his scheduled deportation to Mexico this month could force that business closed and harm the region’s economy.

Owners of West Sound Lumber, where Benjamin Nuñez-Marquez has milled native timber for 15 years, have told immigration authorities that in two years of trying they’ve been unable to find anyone to replace him.

Jack Helsell, 90, who designed and built the operation four decades ago, said those with the knowledge and skill to run the mill’s antique circular saw are well into their 70s now and can’t be expected to work that hard.

And his family, Helsell said, can’t afford to upgrade.

“I didn’t realize how rare he was,” Helsell said of his sawyer. “What we found from all the advertising is that nobody could or wanted to do that job.”

The San Juan Builders Association has written the federal government on Nuñez’s behalf, as has the San Juan County Economic Development Council, which said his deportation, “would adversely affect the economy here as well as the livelihood of many Orcas Island business owners and residents.”

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