MERIDEN — An undocumented Meriden couple facing deportation will be allowed to remain in the country for the time being after a federal judge ruled to reopen their immigration case Monday, which could allow their green card application to move forward.
Franklin and Gioconda Ramos have spent weeks uncertain if they would need to leave their children and city home behind to return to Ecuador, a country they have not seen since they crossed the border illegally as teenagers.
“They are beyond elated,” said their son, Jason Ramos. “It feels so good to have this battle won, to have reached one step closer for my parents to be validated in this country. This is a huge win for everyone who has put their heart into this cause for my family.”
Originally from Ecuador, Franklin and Gioconda Ramos were 19 when they crossed the border in 1993. A federal judge issued the couple final orders of removal in 2005, however, they had been granted stays of removal until Aug. 1, when during a routine check-in ICE agents said they would be enforcing deportation, giving Franklin and Gioconda until the end of the month to provide proof of plane tickets.
The couple complied with the government's request and presented proof of one-way plane tickets at the Hartford immigration office, where a crowd of supporters rallied in the street, on Aug 31.
Community support for the couple continued to grow. On Sept. 22, over 100 attended a candlelight vigil for the couple at their Cook Avenue home, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who criticized the country's immigration system for tearing families apart.
The following week, Jason Ramos was one of 35 peaceful protestors arrested for blocking the entrance to Hartford’s immigration offices at the Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building. The couple was subsequently granted a 30-day extension to remain in the country.
Immigration Judge James M. McCarthy approved a motion to reopen the couple’s immigration case late Monday afternoon, said immigration attorney Michael Boyle.
“He accepted the key arguments we made and set a further hearing in late December to proceed with adjustment of status (final green card processing) for Franklin and Gioconda,” Boyle wrote in an email. “It’s the correct decision legally, and a wonderful result that vindicates the work of the Ramos family and their hundreds of supporters.”
A court hearing is set for Dec. 28 in New York, at which point the couple could enter the final phase of processing for a green card application.
McCarthy states the couple’s previous labor applications for legal status filed prior to 2001 are considered “grandfathered” and meritious on the grounds they were properly filed, non-frivolous and with no evidence of fraud.
“There is no evidence that the respondents or their USC children have had any contacts with the criminal justice system; that the respondents have consistently been employed and filed tax returns for the past decade; that the respondents were granted stays of deportation by DHS/ERO between 2012 and 2017; that the respondents are homeowners; and that the respondents have two United States citizen children,” McCarthy wrote in a memo. “More importantly the court finds that both of the respondents’ United States children, the older of who petitioned for them who is currently attending college and a younger son who is starting college, academic careers would be negatively impacted should the respondents be removed to Ecuador.”
Jason Ramos said the update came as a huge relief Tuesday morning.
“This is some of the best news I’ve had in a long time,” Jason Ramos said. “It just vindicates the work of hundreds and hundreds of people who have put their time, energy, effort, everything to support my parents and I. To have a federal judge to agree to let my parents stay here, it just feels fantastic.”
Franklin and Gioconda Ramos are still wearing GPS ankle bracelets issued by ICE They have a scheduled check-in with ICE on Oct. 30.
ICE Public Affairs Officer Shawn Neudauer said the couple will continue to wear the GPS bracelets until an official ruling is issued by the judge at the December hearing.
“Until something materially changes, they will remain on the GPS monitoring program until the court rules again,” Neudauer said.
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