EDITORIAL: A win for Berwyn grandma who faced deportation, and for us

SHARE EDITORIAL: A win for Berwyn grandma who faced deportation, and for us

From left, lawyers Kate Melloy Goettel and Mony Ruiz-Velasco look on with activist Rosi Carrasco (far right) as Genoveva Ramirez embraces her grandson, Mariano Castellanos on Thursday at a news conference to announce Ramirez has been placed on a waiting list for a visa and will not be deported. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

“Families have a right to live together.”

Rosi Carrasco of the activist group Organized Communities Against Deportations made that excellent point on Thursday at a news conference announcing that a grandma from Berwyn won’t be deported after all.

Carrasco’s words got to the heart of why local activists haven’t given up the fight for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States and why a majority of Americans think some 11 million unauthorized immigrants who have no criminal backgrounds should be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Families shouldn’t be torn apart.


Grassroots resistance and a federal lawsuit made all the difference in getting Genoveva Ramirez, 67, “deferred action” by immigration authorities, meaning she no longer is a priority to be expelled from the U.S. She should be safe until she receives a visa that will allow her to remain in the U.S. permanently, though that could take 10 years because of a long waiting list.

Ramirez never should have been on a deportation list in the first place. She is a great-grandmother who works as a janitor after dark and babysits her grandchildren during the day. She got caught up in deportation proceedings in 2013 after police in DuPage County detained her after a routine traffic stop for driving without a license. It was Ramirez’s only crime in nearly two decades in the U.S.

Immigration authorities kept an eye on Ramirez but made no effort to expel her from the U.S. until President Donald Trump ramped up deportations soon after taking office. In the spring, she was told to get out.

Chicago activists on the front lines of the push for immigration reform came to Ramirez’s side, holding rallies and protests. This tiny, soft-spoken woman gained a lot of might.

In the end, a federal lawsuit filed on Ramirez’s behalf forced immigration authorities to consider an application she had filed for a U visa, granted to 10,000 immigrants annually who are victims of crimes and cooperate with law enforcement in ensuing investigations or prosecutions. Ramirez had been attacked a while back during a burglary.

Upon review, authorities decided she qualified for the visa.

It all makes you wonder how many other good people are being ripped from their families without a fair shake?

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