MERIDEN – Over 100 people gathered in solidarity at the home of undocumented city residents Franklin and Gioconda Ramos for a candlelight vigil protesting the couple’s deportation this week.
Having exhausted nearly all legal options, federal authorities have ordered the couple to board a flight to Ecuador on Friday, leaving behind their two American citizen adult sons.
“Only one week I leave my sons, all my life in this country,” said Gioconda Ramos. “I am very, very sad.”
Franklin and Gioconda Ramos were just 19 when they illegally crossed the border into the United States in 1993. Since settling in Meriden, the couple learned English, purchased a home on Cook Avenue and raised two sons, Jason and Erick, who attend college at Central Connecticut State University.
The couple learned during a routine check-in Aug. 1, that federal immigration authorities would be enforcing their final orders of removal and giving them until the end of the month to purchase tickets to Ecuador.
The Ramos’ complied with the government’s request, presenting proof of one-way plane tickets at the Hartford immigration office Aug. 31, where a crowd of supporters rallied in the street. They have been ordered to wear GPS ankle bracelets until their flight Sept. 29.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal attended the vigil on Friday night, saying that while the county’s immigration laws must be followed, so should the “rules of justice and humanitarian mercy.”
“The United States of America should not be tearing families apart. We should enable them to stay together,” Blumenthal said. “The Ramos family deserves better and I will fight to make sure they have a fair chance to stay here in America.”
City Councilor Miguel Castro said the family are “ideal” community members with no criminal record, “not even a traffic violation.”
“They are part of our community. They are part of the fabric of this city,” Castro said. “We fight and stand against policies that will promote segregation and discrimination against any member of community.”
Community members clutched candles and stood silently as prayers were recited in the Ramos’ backyard.
Despite the rapidly approaching deportation deadline, Franklin Ramos said he still has faith his family’s situation could turn around.
“I am still thinking something good will happen,” Ramos said. “My sons are fighting very hard for me and I fight with them.”
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