(WSVN) - Who stays and who goes? It’s an immigration question debated nationally. But for one South Florida family, it got very personal very quickly. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.
Deedee Hernandez has been married to her husband Danilo for three years.
They met in high school.
Deedee Hernandez, ICE arrested husband: “At that age, you fall in love pretty quickly.”
The couple has a son named Jacob and they have another baby on the way.
But they’ve been living with uncertainty because Danilo is undocumented from Nicaragua.
Deedee Hernandez: “He came in through Brownsville, Texas when he was 12 with his mom and siblings, and he was detained.”
Danilo has been in the country illegally ever since.
The couple filed a petition to make Danilo a legal resident.
Since he was brought into the country as a child, has no criminal history and is married to a U.S. citizen, they hoped it would be a smooth process.
After waiting a year, they finally got an interview at this immigration office in Hialeah.
Deedee Hernandez: “I went in with my husband. I certainly did not think I would leave without him.”
ICE arrested Danilo during the interview.
He was locked up and set to be deported back to Nicaragua.
Deedee Hernandez: “We’re human beings for God’s sake, you know? I pay my taxes. I work as a receptionist from 9-7. I come home, I take care of [my son]. And to be honest with you, Danilo is all I know. He’s all I know. He is the father of my kids, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
In a statement, ICE told 7News “Danilo Cruz Morales entered the country illegally in March 2005” and “An immigration judge ordered him to be removed from the country.”
ICE says anyone here illegally, like Danilo, can now be deported.
Deedee Hernandez: “I don’t want to even think about me going through labor and him not being there.”
Danilo was behind bars here for almost two weeks. But then, the morning after ICE told us his deportation was pending, something unexpected happened. Deedee got a call that they were releasing her husband.
We were with Deedee as she raced to the ICE detention facility in Pompano Beach.
Danilo was waiting outside.
Deedee Hernandez: “Yeah, it’s him!”
Brian Entin: “How do you feel now?”
Danilo Cruz Morales: “I feel happy that I’m out and with my family. Well, I was thinking the worst ’cause first, I don’t have family there in Nicaragua.”
After his release, ICE told 7News the agency, “Makes arrest and custody decisions on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of the circumstances.”
Immigration attorney Mark Prada says the law gives ICE officers an incredible amount of discretion in cases like this.
Mark Prada, immigration attorney: “It’s a gamble, really. You don’t know what’s going to happen to a specific person. It could be two guys with the same set of facts. One is allowed to stay, and one not.”
Brian Entin: “They have that much discretion?”
Mark Prada: “Yeah, absolutely.”
Prada says chances are good Danilo will now be able to finish the process of becoming a legal resident.
Deedee Hernandez: “I will be sleeping very good tonight.”
The couple is hiring a lawyer and relieved they can now fight their case in immigration court.
ICE STATEMENT TO 7NEWS ON AUGUST 29TH:
“Danilo Cruz Morales entered the country illegally in March 2005, subsequently on June 2, 2005, an immigration judge ordered him to be removed from the country in absentia. On August 17, officers with ICE’s enforcement and removal operations arrested Mr. Cruz Morales pursuant to the 2005 final order of removal. Mr. Cruz Morales is currently detained at the Broward Transitional Center pending his removal from the United States.
ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”
ICE STATEMENT TO 7NEWS ON AUGUST 30TH:
“Danilo Cruz Morales entered the U.S. illegally in March 2005; subsequently on June 2, 2005, a federal immigration judge ordered him removed from the country in absentia. On August 17, officers with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested Mr. Cruz Morales pursuant to the 2005 removal order.
ICE makes arrest and custody decisions on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of the circumstances, and the agency subsequently released him from custody August 30 on an Order of Supervision. ICE is now awaiting the outcome of his proceedings before the federal immigration courts.”
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