MERIDEN — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking that city resident Nelly Cumbicos be allowed to remain in the country while her immigration case proceeds in court.
“Today we acknowledge that this is about people, that this is about our constituents,” said City Councilor Miguel Castro. “This letter is to urge ICE to reconsider the original decision not to enforce the order of removal and allow Nelly Cumbicos to have due process. It is the right thing to do. It is a message of solidarity.”
Prior to the meeting, over 60 residents and officials rallied in front of City Hall to support Cumbicos.
Cumbicos, 41, fled Ecuador and crossed the border illegally 18 years ago. Unaware a final order of deportation had been issued against her in 2002, Cumbicos was apprehended by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement while attempting to apply for a Green Card in 2015. She lives in an apartment on Twiss Street with her husband, an American citizen, and 15-year-old son, who is a student at Wilcox Technical High School.
After receiving a stay in June, Cumbicos was given a deportation date of Feb. 16. On Feb. 9, she thought she had received a one-year stay, but ICE informed her four days later that the decision had been reversed and that she had to leave the country by Feb. 28
Cumbicos has a pending motion to reopen her order of removal with the Immigration Board of Appeals and an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Cumbicos’ attorney, Erin O’Neil-Baker.
John Mohan, an ICE spokesman, said Cumbicos removal order remains in effect.
“While her case is still under judicial appeal ICE is prevented from commenting on the specifics,” Mohan said in a statement.
Carrying signs and wearing “Keep Nelly Home” t-shirts, supporters gathered outside City Hall prior to the meeting to support Cumbicos. U.S Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, attended the rally and condemned the immigration system.
“I can pledge to you that we are going to fight for her, advocate, work for her at every level...to prevent this despicable betrayal of American law and value,” Blumenthal said.
Among the crowd was Edwina Trentham, who came from East Haddam to attend the rally.
“It’s outrageous what’s happening," Trentham said. “It’s unacceptable and inhumane.”
Cumbicos thought her “miracle” had come with her previous stay of deportation. Now, she’s praying for a second one.
While Cumbicos hoped the City Council’s letter would strengthen her case, she continues to worry about her looming deportation date.
“It’s like a ticking clock,” said Flor Cumbicos, her sister. “The hours tick. Every minute, every second counts.”