ELYRIA — A family is preparing to part ways today.
A telephone call from immigration attorney David Leopold to Seleste Wisniewski delivered the news Wednesday afternoon that federal officials had denied an application to allow her husband to stay in the country. Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez is to return to Mexico today, boarding a 1:10 p.m. Delta flight at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
“Why? I don’t understand why,” Wisniewski said Wednesday. “My heart’s hurting. I’m in disbelief. There is no reason why this should be happening. Nothing good is going to come out of it.”
Her 46-year-old husband has fought to stay in the United States since an officer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement came to his family’s West River Road South home last month to inform him of the deportation decision. Hernandez-Ramirez was at work at the time, leaving his wife to answer what she called a “bloodcurdling pound at the front door.”
“I’m going to be by myself, raising the kids,” she said in tears Wednesday. “I’m not going to see him. He is not going to be coming home.”
Leopold filed the stay request with the federal agency on the grounds that Hernandez-Ramirez was compliant with ICE requirements — he has a valid work permit, an approved visa petition and pays federal and state taxes. He is also married to an American citizen, is the primary caregiver to his 28-year-old severely disabled stepson, Juan Pino, and is the father to 9-year-old Luis-Angel, an American citizen.
On Tuesday, Leopold said he had hoped ICE would do the right thing.
“To remove this man from his home is an absolute abomination,” he said.
Hernandez-Ramirez, speaking in Spanish with his wife translating, said he wasn’t expecting to be deported.
“I feel very bad for what’s all that happening. I never would have thought to expect this news. I really thought everything was fine. Just waiting to hear, they say that part of complying to stay in the United States was to do the I-130 visa, which I did.”
In published media reports, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said Hernandez-Ramirez was deported three times, and it is time for him to be deported again.
When Wisniewski was asked why her husband became a priority for deportation, she said she really didn’t have an answer.
“The only thing they said was a ‘new administration, a new president,’ ” she said.
News of the denial to stay the deportation came the day after the newly installed Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Nelson Perez went with the family to make a compassionate appeal for the husband and father to stay in the United States. The bishop offered his support and accompanied the family to a meeting at ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations in Cleveland.
Wisniewski said the bishop did not speak to ICE officials, but they did take a letter from him.
Today starts a new normal for the family, one which Wisniewski could not even describe when she spoke Wednesday from her home. She could not even explain how her husband was to leave — if she was to drive to the airport or if they would come for him. She didn’t know if she would just leave him at the ticket gate or have somewhere to say her goodbyes.
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” she said.
Now, the care of Pino is the family’s biggest concern. Wisniewski said she can’t handle the care alone because of her own medical needs. She fears she will have to put Pino in a care facility without her husband’s help.
“He knows something is going on, but I don’t think he’s not going to comprehend that Chunch is leaving,” Wisniewski said, referencing a nickname for Hernandez-Ramirez. “He calls Pedro ‘Chunch.’ He doesn’t know.”
Wisniewski said her husband and son are best friends. Juan has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and requires around-the-clock care, much of it provided by Hernandez-Ramirez.
“When he comes in the house, Juan asks for his keys,” she said. “He always wants his shirts. He calls him when he needs him. My husband changes his diapers and does his tube feedings — whatever he needs.”
To add to the worries, Wisnieski said she fears for her husband in Mexico, believing he will be a target because he has spent so much time in America.
“What man ripped from their family — no matter where they go or where they are going to end up — is going to be OK?” she said.
For a few moments Wednesday, the Hernandez family tried to push those thoughts away. It was Luis-Angel who reminded them of more simple plans.
“We are supposed to go to Walmart to get the new ‘Transformers’ movie,” he said in just a bit over a whisper. “And Daddy said he would get me something from Toys R Us ... and Daddy makes food for us today.”
- Youngstown businessman given deportation stay taken into custody
- 1. Deportation of Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez
- Cleveland Bishop Nelson Perez visits Elyria Catholic
- Compassionate City focuses on immigrants, incarcerated
- VIDEO: Elyria husband, caregiver denied stay, deportation imminent (UPDATED)
- Elyria caregiver targeted for deportation
- Delay in immigration reform has local impact
- Husband, father ordered to return to Mexico
- ICE spokesman says Elyria father granted 1-year stay of removal
- Elyria man avoids deportation
- Dad living in Elyria faces deportation