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NYT Profiles Ohio Family Who Represents Real-World Consequences of Obama’s Delay

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pedro1Must-read today is Julia Preston’s New York Times story about Pedro, Seleste, and their children, an Ohio family that we’ve written about many times before.  Last weekend, President Obama announced that he would be delaying his long-anticipated executive action on immigration.  While many commentators have written about the political ramifications of this decision, the practical consequences mean that millions of families must now wait even longer for relief.  And tens of thousands of families may see their loved ones deported before executive action comes.  One among their number may be Pedro, who may be deported any day.  Julia Preston tells his story, below:

For Seleste Wisniewski, a mother of four in Ohio, President Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections in November was an especially disappointing blow. It means that her Mexican husband is likely to be deported in the coming days.

Ms. Wisniewski followed the news closely on Saturday when the White House announced that Mr. Obama had postponed any measures to expand protections from deportation for immigrants here illegally, citing the worries of Democrats in close races and the souring of the issue for many voters because of an influx of migrants at the Texas border this summer. Last week her husband, Pedro Hernandez Ramirez, was notified that his year-old stay of deportation had been canceled and he should get ready to be sent back to Mexico.

Mr. Hernandez, who has been living in the United States for more than a decade, is the only person in their home in Elyria, Ohio, who can lift Ms. Wisniewski’s son Juan, who is 24 and has cerebral palsy.

So when Ms. Wisniewski, an American citizen, heard about the president’s decision to delay action, her response was: “Why are we going to wait until later to fix a problem we have today?”

Immigrant and Latino advocates assailed the president for putting off action he had pledged to take by the end of the summer, accusing him of bowing to narrow partisan interests.

“President Obama gave in to the fears of Democratic political operatives, crushing the hopes of millions of hard-working people living under the constant threat of deportation and family separation,” said Janet Murguía, president of N.C.L.R., the Latino organization also known as the National Council of La Raza.

Beyond the political damage Mr. Obama may have suffered with those groups, the practical effect of his decision is that deportations will continue at their current pace. Although removals from within the country have decreased in the past three years, at current rates thousands of immigrants could be sent home between now and November….

Immigration agents have been very active in areas of Ohio where many immigrants have settled to work in agriculture, landscaping and small factories.

“It’s kind of a state of emergency,” said Veronica Dahlberg, executive director of HOLA, an immigrant organization in rural Ohio, who said she is battling about a dozen deportations.

Mr. Hernandez, 43, had been employed in nurseries. His deportation notice was a shock to the family because Immigration and Customs Enforcement had granted him a stay a year ago.

But Timothy E. Ward, assistant field office director in Detroit, noted in a letter to Mr. Hernandez that he had returned to the United States illegally after being deported at least four times since 2001. “It appears evident that Mr. Hernandez has no regard for the laws of the United States as evidenced by his repeated violations of U.S. immigration laws,” Mr. Ward wrote. He said Mr. Hernandez should have prepared his family during the past year to get along without him.

In a family interview by telephone on Monday, Mr. Hernandez said he had come back to this country, even though he did not have legal documents, to be with his family. He would most likely be eligible for a reprieve Mr. Obama is considering for parents or spouses of citizens. But for now, he cannot gain legal status through his marriage because of his previous deportations.

Ms. Wisniewski said her husband is the stepfather of three of her children, including Juan. But, she said, “We have all pulled together as a team to keep this family going.”

Her daughter Stephanie, an American citizen who is 17 and a high school senior, said she would be forced to try to replace Mr. Hernandez as the “glue” of the family. “I need him too,” she said. “He chose to step in and be our father. He helps me move forward and doesn’t let me go back.”

Another Mexican facing immediate deportation is Nora Galvez, 39, of Norwalk, 60 miles west of Cleveland. Ms. Galvez, who has a son, Alexis, 8, who is an American citizen, said she had worked for many years picking and packing apples in Ohio. But when a vehicle she was traveling in was stopped for a traffic violation on Aug. 25, the police turned her over to immigration authorities.

Ms. Galvez, who has no criminal record, said she was resigned to being deported, but concerned for her son’s future. “I was here to fight to get him a decent education,” she said.