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Family Celebrates and Thanks Supporters; Broad Immigration Reform Still Needed
Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez–husband, loving father of four, and primary caretaker of his oldest son, Juan, who has cerebral palsy—will imminently be released from Geauga County (OH) Jail after being granted a one year stay of deportation.
Pro-reform activists mobilized quickly to tell Pedro’s story when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) threatened to rip Pedro away from his family, preparing to deport him in the middle of the night. America’s Voice asked people to send a clear message to Rebecca Adducci, Director of the Detroit ICE Office, and other key DHS and ICE officials: Don’t Deport Pedro. While a petition on MoveOn.org garnered over 7,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.
Pedro’s wife Seleste Wisniewski, who fought long and hard for Pedro’s release, said: “I just want to say, from the deepest pit of my soul, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for caring. I can’t believe it, and I won’t believe it until Pedro is sitting in the car next to me. Last night I felt that I was at the breaking point. But I read Psalms 91, and I slept on my Bible, and when I heard the news today I let out the biggest scream that must have broken the Richter scale. So many people around the country cared about us and they didn’t have to. I will never forget that. I’m going to pick up my husband now. We’re going to surprise our little son Luis and his Dad will be home to see him off for his first day of Kindergarten. Our family will be together again.”
While this is a huge victory for the family, it is a temporary solution. If Congress passes immigration reform, it is likely that Pedro would qualify for immigration status and eventually citizenship. So while ICE has deferred action for now, Congress has to finish the job.
Said David Leopold, Pedro’s attorney, “I’m thrilled that ICE has finally done the right thing and returned Pedro to his family who desperately needs him home. But while this family’s terrible ordeal has a happy ending, at least for now, I wonder how many more American families will be torn apart before Congress finally does its job and sends President Obama a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including a road to citizenship for aspiring Americans like Pedro Hernandez, that he can sign into law. The Hernandez family and Americans deserve an immigration system that keeps them safe and together.”
Pedro came to the United States from Mexico in search of a job, and built his life with Seleste and their four children, all of whom are U.S. citizens, in Elyria, Ohio. Pedro was a fire-fighter in Mexico, and he has a kind heart. Pedro’s family, especially Juan, needs him. He is exactly the sort of person America should welcome with open arms, not expel.
As pro-immigrant Americans across the nation call on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to allow a vote on a path to citizenship this fall, this case in Speaker Boehner’s home state—and Congressman Jim Jordan’s congressional district –shows the tragic state of our current immigration system and the urgent need for reform. If Congress does not act, families like Pedro’s will continue to face the tough, heartbreaking reality that they could be torn apart at any moment.
Wisniewski concluded: “Please, no more broken families. They say children are our future, but children can’t be separated from their parents. They become statistics, when they need to be facts. Our country needs immigration reform so that all of the families going through this can be together.”
Below is some of the media coverage telling Pedro’s story: