MERIDEN — City resident Nelly Cumbicos is praying for a miracle. Unless a judge decides to re-open her immigration case, she will be deported back to her native Ecuador in two weeks, leaving her husband and teenage son behind.
”My world has been turned upside down,” Cumbicos said through a translator.
Cumbicos, 41, illegally crossed the border in 2000. She lived in Wallingford before moving to Meriden in 2012. She lives with her son and husband in an apartment on Twiss Street.
Cumbicos was unaware she had been issued a final order of deportation in 2002 until she applied for a Green Card in 2015. She was subsequently apprehended by Immigrations & Customs Enforcement agents and issued an ankle bracelet. Her original deportation date was in June, but Cumbicos was granted a temporary stay. On Jan. 22, she was informed her most recent stay request had been denied by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE would be enforcing her deportation orders Feb. 16.
Cumbicos has an appeal pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals, said her Attorney Erin O’Neil-Baker.
”Unfortunately when you have an old removal order – it’s decades old - it’s very difficult to reopen that type of case,” O’Neil-Baker said. “We’re at the last minute here and that’s when people become desperate to stay.”
Officials from ICE did not return a request for comment.
Cumbicos said she fled Ecuador to escape violence.
“I escaped from organized military and criminal violence that threatened my family, threatened me,” Cumbicos said. “My father used to own a business and his business was burned.”
After leaving Ecuador, Cumbicos said she was kidnapped and taken across the border into the United States. Soon after, a car she was traveling in with other immigrants crashed and she was rescued by police. ICE determined she was in the country illegally and sent her to Connecticut to be with her family.
Her 15-year-old, Jim Chuquirima, attends Wilcox Technical High School where he studies computer science. His mother’s looming deportation has left him depressed and distracted at school.
“It makes me feel helpless,” he said.
Ramon Muniz, her husband, is originally from Puerto Rico. The fact that Cumbicos is married to an American citizen should be given greater weight in her case, he said.
“I’ll lose a wife. Her son will lose a mother,” he said.
Following the deportation of New Fairfield resident Joel Colindres this week, Cumbicos is worried about her future.
“I have not been preparing (to leave) because we trust a miracle is going to happen,” she said.
Over 13,000 have signed an online petition to stop Cumbicos’ deportation.
Community members will be gathering at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday night to show support at the City Council meeting.
City Councilor Miguel Castro has been supporting the family’s efforts and called the government’s treatment of Cumbicos “senseless and inhumane.”
“Here is another family who is part of the fabric of this community and the system is tearing them apart,” said Castro, a Democrat.
Cumbicos hoped Monday’s gathering would be an opportunity.
“My message is to show them I want to stay together with my family,” she said. “I feel grateful for what this country has done for me. I feel safe in this country. This is my home. I am at home.”
More information about Monday’s gathering can be found at www.facebook.com/keepnellyhome.