Raleigh woman detained by ICE, husband given self-deportation orders
Posted May 7
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh woman who was in the process of gaining legal immigration status has been detained and told her whole family may have to return to Honduras.
Every six months for the past three years, David Ramirez and his wife, Cindy, traveled to Charlotte to continue their visa application process.
“We go, they just sign a paper, and then you go home,” Ramirez said.
Last week, the couple headed to Charlotte again, expecting the same routine, but this time his wife was detained.
Ramirez would have been detained too, he said, if not for his two daughters, who are U.S. citizens. Instead, he was allowed to leave, but given self-deportation orders.
“It’s like the 17th of June that I got to leave the country. I got to go to Charlotte with a ticket in hand,” he said.
Ramirez came to the United States 13 years ago from Honduras, where he said life was tough living with his father and five siblings.
“There was a time that there was no food in the house. There was nothing to eat because he was putting all of his money into our education,” he said.
Once Ramirez arrived in the United States, getting legal status wasn’t as easy as he anticipated. He said he laid low until four years ago, when he started the visa application process.
“It’s not just showing up to immigration and saying ‘hey, I want a permit. I want a work permit. I want to work,’” he said.
Ramirez thought he was doing the right thing and taking all the proper steps, but now he and his wife are unsure what is in store for the future.
“I just could not believe that a family like this would show up for their appointed immigration hearing and then be put in handcuffs before their kids,” a friend said
The Ramirez’s church family is rallying around them, raising money and reaching out to elected officials in the hopes that they can turn the situation around.
“My wife and I, we have been very active in the community and we just want to be part of it,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said he and his wife were applying for a U Visa- a non-immigrant visa set aside for victims of crimes who are willing to help law enforcement officials in the investigation of the crime.
ICE said they legally cannot release any information about anybody with a pending U Visa application.