Meriden couple must leave behind children, American dream after stay request denied

Meriden couple must leave behind children, American dream after stay request denied


MERIDEN — The Ramos’ Cook Avenue home stands out with a white picket fence, immaculately manicured lawn and twin lion statues guarding the front door.

“The dream for our family,” said Gioconda Ramos.

Born in Ecuador, Franklin and Gioconda Ramos illegally crossed the border into the United States in 1993 at age 19. After 24 years of living in the United States and raising two sons, the couple was informed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Aug. 1 that they have until the end of the month to purchase plane tickets back to Ecuador, leaving their children, jobs and home behind.

“Every night I cry. I pray, please I want to stay here with my family,” Gioconda Ramos said.

The family is one of several in the city facing separation due to illegal immigration status.

Franklin Ramos said his former Middletown workplace was raided by ICE agents in 2012 and he was detained for three months before being released back to his family. Since then, he and his wife have been granted stays of leave, however, their most recent request was denied. The couple has no criminal history, said North Haven attorney Michael Boyle, who represents the couple.

“I assume it was denied just because of the changes in the Trump administration,” Boyle said. “I wasn’t given any other reason.”

ICE spokesman Shawn Neudaurer said the Ramoses were notified during a routine office check-in Aug. 1 that ICE would be proceeding with their court-ordered removal.

“Both individuals have final orders of removal issued by a federal immigration judge in 2005. Both recently applied to ICE for stays of removal, and both were denied by the ICE Field Office covering Hartford,” Neudaurer said. “After reviewing both cases, and in a further exercise of discretion, ICE chose not to place either in custody, allowing them the chance to make timely departure arrangements. If they should fail to do so, they can be placed into ICE custody, where they’ll remain pending removal from the United States.”

ICE has increased removal of undocumented residents with work tax identification cards by 60 percent under Trump’s administration. ICE stopped automatically granting stays of removal for undocumented immigrants in May after several immigration bills were introduced by members of Congress, according to the agency. Those with stay requests prior to May 5 will be processed under the old policy and granted an automatic stay until 2019, ICE previously told the Record-Journal.

The Ramos’ 23-year-old son Jason, a legal resident, has an application open to sponsor his parents for a green card. Franklin Ramos had opened a previous application prior to 2001, but blamed its denial on lawyers mishandling the case. Boyle is requesting to reopen the Ramos’ immigration case in New York, where they lived prior to Meriden, to give the couple a chance at obtaining a path to citizenship.

“We’re hoping ICE will cooperate and be sensible based on the fact that they have the legal ability now to adjust status in the United States,” he said.

Franklin Ramos works as a sheet metal mechanic and Gioconda Ramos works a warehouse job at Fosdick Fulfillment.

The family’s home is adorned with awards and honors from Jason and their other son Erick’s education.

Everything from a wrestling award to an elementary school graduation certificate hang on the walls or within frames on bookshelves. Jason Ramos, 23, works and attends Central Connecticut State University where he studies psychology. Erick Ramos graduated Platt High School in May.

He has had jobs since age 14 to save up for a car, which he finally purchased this summer. A few days later at his Central Connecticut State University orientation, Erick learned of the order to remove his parents.

Franklin Ramos said he worked hard to purchase his modest 19th Century Cook Avenue home.

Franklin Ramos worries that if he and his wife are deported, they will be unable to keep up with mortgage payments and lose the home.

“This is the last thing I want because this is for my sons,” Franklin Ramos said.

A spokesman for ICE could not provide details or comment on case, one of hundreds Boyle is handling throughout the state. While some immigration cases take a year or two, other cases can take a decade or more, Boyle said.

The Ramos’ case is relatively straightforward in that they have a previous application and their son, a legal citizen, has petitioned to sponsor their green cards.

“I have families throughout the state, in each of them I’m trying to find something like this that is an option that would be attractive to the government,” Boyle said. “When that’s not possible people have to leave or seek sanctuary.”

Last week, Meriden resident Marco Reyes sought refuge in a New Haven church on the day he was ordered to fly back to Ecuador.

As of Friday, Reyes remained in the church, awaiting an appeal on his removal order.

Reyes is now considered a fugitive from justice and although ICE agents are generally prohibited from enforcement actions at locations deemed sensitive such as schools or places of worship, if Ramos leaves the church ICE will detain and remove him from the country.

Others in the community have gone silently, such as Rosa Chabla, a Four Points by Sheraton hotel worker who was deported to Ecuador last month, leaving her husband, daughter and 10-year-old son behind.

Her son, Edwin Quilligana, 18, a Maloney High School graduate, was also deported. Now in Ecuador, he is afraid to leave home for fear of gang violence, according to his father.

As many as 1,800 undocumented residents live in Meriden, according to Democratic City Councilor Miguel Castro, who has met with Reyes and the Ramos couple and described them as hardworking, respectable community members, not the dangerous criminals Trump promised to remove.

“The policy wasn’t made to remove any threats from our community or our country,” Castro said. “What the system is forgetting is these are families who have been part of our community for decades. They have paid their taxes, they have been responsible, they have been involved in our community. For them to be subject to this kind of segregation and attack is really discriminatory. It is unfair. It is not democratic. It is against the very foundation of our American values.”

From the Ramos family, their Cook Avenue home is the embodiment of their dream of citizenship.

They plan to hold a party at their home this weekend as a way to thank the community for all their support, but also to potentially say goodbye.

“It’s like a living funeral,” Jason Ramos said.

The family is undecided on what will happen if they are not granted an extension by the end of the month, whether Franklin and Gioconda Ramos will board a plane or seek sanctuary.

“It’s easy for people to say it’s like black and white. If you entered the country illegally, you should be out and the truth is hundreds of thousands of people have left quietly,” Jason Ramos said. “We want to do this lawfully, peacefully, but we want people to understand us.”

Erick Ramos said his parents deserve a chance to stay in the country, having lived more of their life in the United States than Ecuador.

“I’m a U.S. citizen, I was born here but that does not make me more American than my father and mother,” Erick Ramos said. “They’ve done way more than I have as an American. They bought this house, built it up and got a letter form the mayor recognizing them, paid their taxes, had jobs and jobs and jobs, learned the language. They are just as American as I am.”
Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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