The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has denied a stay of deportation to allow an immigrant dad in Ohio who is asking the government to let him stay in the United States. Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez, who entered the country 15 years ago and serves as the primary caretaker of a severely disabled stepson, will be deported Thursday.
The denial came in the form of a letter dated Tuesday from the ICE regional office in Cleveland to Hernandez-Ramirez’s lawyer David Leopold, Chair of the Immigration Practice Group at Ulmer & Berne LLP. In the letter obtained by ThinkProgress, the ICE official said that “pursuing the removal of Mr. Hernandez is the proper enforcement action in this case and is consistent with the core mission of [Enforcement and Removal Operations].” The official went on to say that his agency “has given your client every consideration and courtesy in this matter.”
After coming to the country in 2001, Hernandez-Ramirez married a U.S. citizen, had children with her, and has since taken her children as his own. He is also the primary caretaker for Juan, his 28-year-old stepson who is wheelchair bound with cerebral palsy and mental disabilities. According to his family, Hernandez-Ramirez changes Juan’s diapers, cleans his tubes, and is the only person strong enough to lift Juan in and out of his wheelchair.
Seleste Wisniewski, his wife and a U.S. citizen, has been afraid that her husband’s deportation would mean she would have to place her son in a facility so that he can “receive around-the-clock care without her husband,” Chronicle-Telegram reporter Lisa Roberson reported Wednesday. According to the publication, she has medical issues and serious back problems that prevent her from lifting her adult son.
“No ICE official can put a cap on the type of care my son deserves,” Wisniewski told the publication late Tuesday. “Has anyone stopped to think how they would like to be trapped in his body? His body don’t work for him, but his mind does. I have fought for him for 28 years. He deserves more than he gets, he deserves to be respected.”
Hernandez-Ramirez has a valid work permit that would have allowed him to stay in the country and that doesn’t expire until February 2018. Still, in a statement made available to other news outlets, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said Hernandez-Ramirez has been deported three times before. But he has reentered each time out of concern for his stepson who can’t function without his help. He was granted multiple stays of deportation, each time on the condition that his deportation would cause extreme hardship on his family, particularly on Juan.
“There’s a real danger that Juan may have to be put in a home,” Leopold said, explaining that the family currently has a nurse to help Juan, but still requires three adults to provide nonstop care. The nurse does not physically lift or provide physical transferring care that Juan needs. “Without Pedro in the home there will be no one who can offer the physical transferring care he needs… Also, no medical service or home can provide the love and emotional support Pedro gives Juan as his father.”
Under the Trump administration, there has been a consistently troubling shift in enforcement priorities that more or less makes all undocumented immigrants eligible for deportation, regardless of their excuses to stay in the country. Hernandez-Ramirez’s case is dire. His son has become “more dependent on Pedro’s love, emotional support and physical care than ever before,” yet as Leopold pointed out, “the agents literally told me ‘there are no priorities anymore.’”
Now that the letter from ICE has solidified Hernandez-Ramirez’s deportation plans, both Leopold and the family are concerned about his future back in Acapulco, Mexico. In August, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory to parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations, including Acapulco where it no longer allows travel for U.S. government personnel. It’s long been known that drug cartels and gangs target deportees, some on the assumption that they are easier to ransom for money. Earlier this month, one Mexican immigrant to the United States was found murdered, just three months after he was deported back to Mexico. As of August 2017, there have been 2,468 intentional homicides in Mexico, according to Mexican government data.