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He Stayed To Care For His Stepson. Now Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez Has Been Deported

Kabir Bhatia
Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez, back, stands with his wife and son.

Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez has cared for his stepson, who has cerebral palsy and a severe mental disability, for 14 years in Elyria, Ohio. That changed Thursday, as Hernandez-Ramirez was deported to Mexico. 

For Hernandez-Ramirez's wife, Seleste Wisniewski, his deportation leaves a bleak future.

"They gave us the American Dream. We earned the American Dream," Wisniewski said, crying. "For them to rip it away from him, I just don't get it."

Low Priority, Until He Wasn't

Hernandez-Ramirez entered the country illegally years ago, and he's been undocumented since then. David Leopold, the family's attorney, says Hernandez-Ramirez was previously a low priority for removal. 

That's in large part due to Hernandez-Ramirez's role as a caregiver for his son, Juan Pino.

"He was given reprieve because he's the only one who can lift Juan in the house and take care of him in terms of transferring him," Leopold says. "He offers Juan emotional support as his stepfather. He's been with this young man most of his life, and based on that largely, and based on the equities, they determined he was not a priority under the last administration."

Wisniewski says they work opposite shifts so one person is always in the house to take care of Pino. Beyond Hernandez-Ramirez's role in the house, though, Wisniewski says she doesn't understand what he could have done to prevent his deportation.

"He's worked at the same job, he pays taxes, he takes care of his family, no traffic violations, no traffic violations," she says. "We didn't broke none of the law. We did everything we were supposed to."

Uncertain Reasoning

Hernandez-Ramirez was granted work authorization and a permit to stay in 2015. That stay extended until February 2018, but according to Cleveland.com, ICE officials showed up unexpectedly at Hernandez-Ramirez's house in August to tell him he would be deported.

"In comes Donald Trump, and the Trump administration, in an effort to get their numbers up and deport as many people as they can get their hands on, determined that he was one of the first to have to go," Leopold claims.

According to an ICE spokesperson, Hernandez-Ramirez was deported from the country three times before, most recently in 2013. Leopold says immigration officials have been inconsistent with deportation orders, and that Hernandez-Ramirez's case could have been avoided.

"ICE likes to justify, particularly now, they use these types of excuses to justify their unjust behavior," Leopold says. "This is a cruel situation. It's extremely cruel what they're doing."

In an interview earlier on Wednesday, Wisniewski said his deportation leaves their family with few options.

"Basically Pedro was Juan's independence to the world, and that's all changing in a couple of hours because they're taking him away and sending him back to Mexico," Wisniewski said.

Hernandez-Ramirez was scheduled to fly out of Cleveland Hopkins Airport on Thursday afternoon.