Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez has lived in the United States for fifteen years. He is a devoted husband to his wife Seleste Wisniewski, a U.S. citizen, and father to four U.S. citizen children in Elyria, OH.
Pedro and Seleste’s eldest son, Juan, suffers from severe intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. Pedro is Juan’s primary caretaker. He is also a constant support and guide for his 9 year-old son, Luis, who is Pedro’s natural-born child. According to a friend and neighbor of the family, Luis “idolizes his dad and dreams to be just like him.”
Pedro, who is a trained firefighter, first moved to California from Mexico in 2001. He eventually made his way to Ohio and fell in love with Seleste Wisniewski, a native-born American. Seleste had three children already, who Pedro accepted and treated as his own. He became the primary caregiver for Juan, the eldest child, who has severe intellectual disability and cerebral palsy.
Juan is wheelchair bound and unable to care for himself. As Juan’s primary caregiver, Pedro changes his diapers, cleans his tubes, and lifts him from his wheelchair. This went on for years, and the family became a working unit. The couple’s youngest son, Luis, was born and the family was complete.
However, Pedro was always at constant risk of deportation. The Hernandez family nightmare became reality in 2013 after a minor traffic stop by the Ohio Highway Patrol. Pedro was deported.
\As Seleste struggled to care for an aging son with severe handicaps without Pedro’s support–as the only person who could lift Juan in and out of his wheelchair–Pedro returned to the United States to help his family. There was no way for Pedro to enter the U.S. legally to fulfill his duties as father and caregiver, so he re-entered without inspection. This was an extreme and unusual situation.
Since then, Ramirez has been granted multiple stays of deportation, owing to the extreme hardship his deportation would place on Seleste, Juan, Luis, and his entire family. He has an approved I-130 petition, which is the first step toward a green card, but the existing laws make it impossible for him to complete the process, despite being married to a U.S. citizen and a father to four.
Pedro’s work permit was renewed by the Trump Administration in 2017. He was supposed to appear for his annual “check-in” appointment with ICE in September, when suddenly agents came to his door a month early and demanded that he come in the following week.
Pedro was put on an ankle monitor and told to make plans for deportation. He has to leave the U.S. by September 29, 2017, despite possessing a work permit valid into the following year.
On September 19, 2017, David Leopold, Pedro’s immigration attorney, filed a new stay of deportation.
Pedro has a legal work permit and has done everything possible to try to become a legal U.S. citizen. If ICE denies his stay, Pedro will be torn from his wife and four children, and Juan will lose his primary caregiver, who is the only one strong enough in the family to help him physically. Luis, Pedro’s youngest, will lose his greatest role model and have to pass the formative years of his life without the constant presence of a loving dad.
Pedro’s case should qualify for deportation exception. According to Seleste, Pedro’s wife, “Pedro is the backbone of our family. It is emotionally killing us. There aren’t words to describe how we would feel if he is taken from us.”