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Felipe Montes exits the courtroom for a lunch break at the Alleghany County Courthouse in Sparta Monday, November 19, 2012.

Felipe Bautista Montes, a deported Sparta man who was awarded custody of his three sons last month in Alleghany District Court, boarded a plane back to Mexico Friday morning after losing a fight to stay in the United States.

Montes was allowed back in the country on a special kind of visa called humanitarian parole. That visa expires Saturday and Montes had been ordered to leave the country Friday. Presente.org, an online advocacy group for Latinos, had been working to either get a stay of removal on Montes’ deportation or extend his humanitarian pa-role.

Kyle de Beausset, senior campaigner for Presente.org, said the organization was unable to do either and that Montes boarded a plane out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport Friday morning. He said he believed Mon-tes’ three children were also on the plane. He could not be reached later Friday, but according to Colorlines.com, a daily online news site focused on racial and immigration issues, Montes left with his three sons. Colorlines.com has been covering the case of Montes.

Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, said in a news release that he was outraged that Felipe Montes was forced to leave.

“This is indicative of a devastating systemic problem—how many U.S. citizen children are forced to leave the only country they know as home or be placed in foster care away from their parents?” Carmona said in a news release. “It is unacceptable that as lawmakers are discussing ‘immigration reform’ and ‘family unity’ they are al-lowing deportations like this to continue taking place.”

Montes, 33, was deported in 2010 after he was cited for a series of traffic violations. Two months later, his wife, Marie Montes, a U.S. citizen, lost custody of their three children – Angel, 2; Adrian, 3; and Isaiah, 5. The Alleghany Department of Social Services determined she was an unfit mother and has sought to terminate her parental rights.

Montes fought to gain custody of his three children, traveling back to the United States on the humanitarian pa-role to attend hearings in Alleghany District Court. Alleghany County social-services workers raised concerns about the home where the children would stay in Mexico, saying it had no running water. And Louise Paglen, the attorney representing the interests of the children, alleged in court that Montes had physically abused and neglected the children.

Judge Michael Duncan of Alleghany District Court rejected those arguments and awarded temporary custody to Montes in November and permanent custody last month.

Mark Atkinson, a Winston-Salem immigration lawyer, said Montes faced a hurdle getting a stay of removal be-cause he had already been deported and was only in the country on a rare type of visa.

Federal immigration officials have been exercising prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis, following a directive in a June 17, 2011, letter from ICE director John Morton. President Barack Obama has publicly supported that directive.

But Atkinson said Montes might not qualify under prosecutorial discretion because of his deportation. He would have to get his deportation case reopened, which also would prove difficult, Atkinson said.

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