It was a close call — and it isn’t over yet. Denada Rondos and her three young children had packed to leave for her native Albania when word came Monday that the Department of Homeland Security had granted her a forbearance, a reprieve from deportation while her appeal is being reviewed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
The last-minute reprieve, although temporary, gave her and her family some breathing space. Her husband, Viron Rondos, and their children, ages 1, 5 and 7 years, are U.S. citizens; Denada Rondos is not, having come to this country at age 17 under a false visa supplied by her parents to help her escape Albania’s violence and religious persecution of Orthodox Christians.
Having lost an appeal, Denada Rondos was planning to leave the country with the children while her husband stayed behind to run the family business, a restaurant in Cheshire. The new appeal could take up to a year to be heard.
Certain questions come immediately to mind: Do we really want to tear a family apart, sending three young children who are American citizens, and have grown up here, to live in a foreign country because that’s the only way they can be with their mother? And can we honestly hold someone responsible for her parents’ actions when she was under age?
The decision to let Denada Rondos stay, pending her appeal, is the only decent and reasonable course of action in this case. “I’m very grateful,” she told a group of reporters Monday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. “This is the best day of my life.”
Rondos has been fighting to remain in the United States for several months, but not without support. A vigil last Sunday drew more than 100 Cheshire residents, and members of Congress have spoken in her favor.
“This gives her a day in court,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “… But it’s only one step and we’re going to continue the fight for this family so they can remain together in this country where they have a business and they’ve contributed to their community.”
Both Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, criticized the recent escalation in non-criminal deportations since the Trump administration took control of the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is not what a great country does,” Esty said.
We agree. There has to be a better way — one that tempers strict justice with a measure of humanity.