September 26, 2017 11:29PM
By Leigh Tauss
MERIDEN — For the first time in nearly two months, undocumented city residents Franklin and Gioconda Ramos shed tears of joy, rather than despair, after learning a judge had temporarily postponed their deportation scheduled for Friday.
The move gives the couple a chance to have their immigration case reopened.
“The first thing we did was just embrace each other,” said their son Jason Ramos.
The couple own a home on Cook Avenue and are supporting two sons in college at Central Connecticut State University. Jason Ramos, 23, learned the decision upon being released from a Hartford jail cell Monday night, one of 35 arrested for blocking the doors to the Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building in a peaceful protest that morning.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the decision was made by a federal immigration judge.
“An immigration court granted the couple a stay of removal in furtherance of their legal proceedings,” ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said in a statement. “After reviewing both cases earlier this year, and in a further exercise of discretion, ICE chose not to place either in custody, allowing them the chance to make timely departure arrangements or to continue to seek relief before the courts.”
Immigration Attorney Michael Boyle said the judge’s decision came after he filed a “last ditch motion,” Friday. The couple has a check-in with ICE scheduled for Oct. 18. It is unclear, however, how long it will take for the judge to review the Ramos’ case. If the case is reopened, Boyle said the couple will be able to apply for green cards.
“If he makes the decision to reopen the case you are very far out of the woods,” Boyle said. “It would be a stunning positive development, a great movement in the direction of justice despite the times we live in.”
While pleased to learn a stay was granted, Mayor Kevin Scarpati said he would be looking into what can be done on the local level to support the family as their struggle for citizenship continues.
“Obviously it’s good news because it provides the family a small amount of relief for a short time, however it’s far from over and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Scarpati said.
Originally from Ecuador, Franklin and Gioconnda Ramos were 19 when they illegally crossed the border in 1993. The couple were issued final orders of removal in 2012 after an immigration raid at Franklin’s work, however they had been granted stays of removal. That changed on Aug. 1 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents informed the couple they would be enforcing their removal orders, giving them until the end of the month to provide proof of plane tickets.
The Ramoses complied with the government’s request, presenting proof of one-way plane tickets at the Hartford immigration office, where a crowd of supporters rallied in the street, on Aug. 31. Over 100 attended a candlelight vigil for the couple Friday at their Cook Avenue home, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal who criticized the country’s immigration system for tearing families apart.
Public support for the family, has made “all the difference.” Boyle said.
“We’re very encouraged that the judge took this step to allow a reasoned review rather than to let the time run out,” Boyle said. “The fact that this case is still going and the fact people are taking it seriously has everything to do with the people who have showed up to help.”
Although the judge’s decision was an extremely positive development for the couple, Jason Ramos said it is just a temporary solution.
“We have a stay but then again were still stuck in uncertainty,” Jason Ramos said. “This stay is not an answer. It’s a band-aid for something we are still fighting for which is for my parents to permanently stay here, the green card leading to citizenship.”