A grandmother and a US Army veteran deported to Italy several years ago are fighting to return to the United States in order to testify before state lawmakers.
Paula Milardo, a grandmother and wife of a US Army veteran, lived in the United States legally for fifty years prior to her deportation. Arnold Giammarco, also a US Army veteran, lived legally in the US since the age of four, and has a US citizen wife and child.
But both Paula and Arnold were torn from their families and deported to Italy following non-violent offenses, even though they sought the help they needed and successfully completed their drug treatment rehabilitation.
Now in what is thought to be the first case of its kind, Connecticut lawmakers last month subpoenaed Paula and Arnold to testify at a hearing about how deportations following non-violent criminal convictions can affect families. Paula and Arnold want to return to the US to tell their stories, but ICE immigration officials have rejected their claims. Lawyers for the two are appealing the decision.
Paula, a grandmother of six and devoted wife to a disabled US Army veteran, longs to return to her family.
“I made a mistake and I am truly sorry for what I did,” she said. “But I have paid my debt to society. I never thought I would be torn from my family after living in Connecticut nearly all my life. I am devastated and heartbroken without my husband, children, and grandchildren. My life is back home in Connecticut.”
Arnold, who served in Germany as a member of the US Army, has not seen his family since Thanksgiving 2013.
“I was devastated,” Arnold said about this deportation. “It’s been a nightmare for the past four years. I worry about my wife and daughter. They’re everything to me. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. I’m not a bad person. I changed my life around.”
Arnold’s wife Sharon is keeping her hopes pinned on her husband being allowed to return to testify.
“This gives me hope that one day I won’t have to tell our daughter why her dad can’t attend her parent teacher conferences and why she shouldn’t save a piece of birthday cake for him this year.”
Both Paula and Arnold hope to return to share their stories and help spare other families the pain of family separation.
Said Democratic State Rep. William Tong, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee: “It seems that, on its face, these cases are extreme and unjust…we need to explore it a little more.”