The recent announcement by the Obama administration to delay the promised executive action on immigration will affect millions of hardworking individuals and their families. Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants will be deported while we wait for the president to bring some sanity to a broken immigration system.
One family in Ohio deeply understands the dire consequences of delay. Seleste Wisniewski, an American citizen, is desperately worried that her husband, Pedro Hernandez Ramirez, may be deported in the coming days. Pedro, who has lived and worked in the U.S. for more than a decade, was just notified that his yearlong stay of deportation had been canceled and he would be sent back to Mexico soon. Pedro is ineligible to be sponsored by his U.S. citizen wife because he has been in this country out of status for too long.
The biggest impact of Pedro’s deportation would be felt by their four U.S. citizen children—particularly Juan, 24, who has severe cerebral palsy. Pedro is the only one in their home who can lift Juan in and out of his wheelchair, bed, and bath. The family also depends on Pedro’s income from working in a landscape nursery.
In a recent story in The New York Times, Seleste asked an urgent question of Obama and the politicians who convinced him to delay action: “Why are we going to wait until later to fix a problem we have today?”
Seleste has been advocating on behalf of her husband publicly for the last year, when Pedro was detained in a county jail and days away from deportation before he received a stay. He returned to his family, and ever since they have been hoping that Washington would act in time to spare him. When Congress failed to move forward this spring, Seleste and Pedro were relieved to hear President Obama promise to provide some relief “by summer’s end.” Now that broken promise could have a shattering impact on their family.
The recent delay has been devastating for the entire family. Their 17-year-old daughter, Stephanie, said that Pedro is the “glue” keeping the family together and the one who teaches her “right from wrong.” Their five-year-old son loves to play basketball with his dad but lives in fear that he will be taken away again—this time forever.
Seleste knows they are “in a race against time.” She doesn’t understand why she has to “choose between her husband and her country.” She is pleading with President Obama to act as quickly as possible to ensure that her family stays together.