Family immigration situation turns into crisis

A woman in another state says she and her son are both disabled and they heavily rely on the physical, emotional and financial support her husband provides for their family. She is a U.S. citizen, but her husband is not. The couple recently gathered documentation to attend a family immigration interview to prove the legitimacy of their marriage, a process with which many Louisiana immigrants are familiar. It was a meeting they had been awaiting three years.

The woman said she felt confident that all would go well and her husband would ultimately be able to legalize his immigration status. When things went wrong during the interview, the woman became distraught. She was asked to leave the room, which is not uncommon during marriage interviews, as officials often question spouses separately to compare their answers. However, when this particular woman exited the room, her husband was then placed under arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Officials say the man’s arrest was based on a deportation order that was issued against him years ago but was never fully processed. In the meantime, the husband/father has been placed in a detention center, and the wife and her son have had to move in with her sister as they are unable to function on a daily basis without support. The woman fears that U.S. government officials will make her husband of three years return to his country of origin, which happens to be Nicaragua.

In the past, people have been released and allowed to remain in Louisiana or other U.S. regions while their family immigration cases have been processed. This was done to prevent family members, especially children, from being separated from their loved ones. Recent changes in U.S. immigration law have removed such exemptions, placing many immigrant families at risk for immediate removal.