On Tuesday morning, I got up early, got my 1-year-old son Christopher ready and left with my husband, Juan Vivares, for what we hoped would be a routine check-in with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Manhattan.
The check-in had been scheduled because Juan was denied his application for political asylum from his native Colombia late last year and I am in the process of petitioning for him to stay in the country because my son and I are both U.S. citizens.
Juan works — or worked — as an electrician and I am a doorwoman at a luxury building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We have — or had — good jobs, pay our taxes and have been saving money to move out of our apartment and buy a house in the Bronx. We’d prepared all of our documents carefully and believed that when the ICE officer looked at our case, she would allow Juan to stay.
But the meeting turned into a nightmare as the officer we met with didn’t care that Juan’s file had letters of support and the notice that my petition is being processed. She just said to Juan: “I already made my decision. You have no reason to stay in the country.”
We tried to tell her that my son and I are his reasons to stay. She didn’t care. We walked into the meeting a family of three but I walked out alone with Christopher and realized our family had just been torn apart.
Juan has already been sent to a detention center in Texas and has been told he’ll be put on a plane to Colombia on Monday.
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