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Cleveland, OH – Last week, Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez, a father of four U.S citizen children and primary caregiver of a severely mentally and physically disabled young man, was deported. In response, Judy Mark, president and CEO of Disability Voices United, penned an op-ed for the Cleveland Plain Dealercondemning the cruel and senseless decision and explaining how deporting a caregiver harms U.S. citizens and broader society.
Deporting Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez makes no sense. It makes no sense for Juan, who trusts his stepfather and will now suffer greatly because Pedro isn’t there. It makes no sense for Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez’s American wife, who relied on his help for her children so that she didn’t have to make the difficult decision to put Juan in an institution. It makes no sense to Juan’s three siblings, who love Pedro as their dad and role model, and have made a brand new language with Juan, as he is an integral, active part of their family at home.
It makes no sense to our country, either. Our government should value the involvement of parents in the lives of their disabled children. When a mother cares for her daughter with epilepsy, the daughter is less likely to be hospitalized. When a father cares for his son with cerebral palsy, it keeps the son in the community and out of costly institutions.
It underscores a basic tenet of American families — caring for each other — and saves taxpayers a great deal of money as well.
Now that Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez has been deported, it is likely that Juan will need to depend on government assistance more. A young neighbor, who calls Pedro “the neighborhood dad,” has offered to help. But this is not a long-term replacement for Juan’s real dad. It is still likely that Juan will need a paid aide to care for him while his mother is at work. It is also possible, if his mother Seleste is unable to care for Juan, that he will end up in an institutional setting – horrible for Juan’s health and safety and very expensive for taxpayers.
Unfortunately, given the existing “rubber stamp” deportation policy of the Trump Administration, Pedro’s fate is not unusual. Also last week, in San Diego, the father of a young man with autism wasdeported, and in El Paso, a mother whose 8-year-old daughter who is actively battling multiple cancers was finally given a paltry six-month stay after an exhausting public campaign.
“These are families in pain, with deep challenges, working as a unit to support one another. These deportation decisions should have clearly been decided the other way, utilizing a modicum of common sense and basic human compassion, behind closed doors. Yet, despite shining a light on the inhumanity at play – and the public intervention of Bishops – ICE is holding fast to its mass deportation policy with zero exceptions,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund. “The actions our government is taking against families and U.S. citizens in need is obscene.”
Find Mark’s piece in its entirety here.
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