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Berwyn grandmother shows immigration officer one-way ticket to Mexico

After finding out she will stay here until Oct. 25, Genoveva Ramirez hugs friends at the ICE Immigration office Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Genoveva Ramirez reported to the immigration office in downtown Chicago on Thursday with a one-way ticket to Mexico City.

Earlier this month, the Berwyn grandmother of 10 was ordered to leave the country by the end of October. She purchased an Oct. 25 flight from O’Hare, but is still holding out hope that she won’t be on the plane.

The plane ticket, said attorney Mony Ruiz-Velasco, was “a show of good faith” proving that the 67-year-old is doing everything immigration officials ask of her. Ramirez said through an interpreter that she was “nervous but hoping for the best,” at her 1 p.m. hearing with her deportation officer.

Ramirez is the primary caregiver for her 7-year-old grandson, Mariano Castellanos. The pair clung to each other outside the immigration office on Thursday, only separating when Ramirez spoke of the worst case scenario for Thursday’s hearing: detainment and deportation.

Genoveva Ramirez hugs her grandson, Mariano Castellanos, after her hearing at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times
Genoveva Ramirez hugs her grandson, Mariano Castellanos, after her hearing at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Despite her compliance with officials, Ramirez faced the possibility that she may not return from the hearing. The visa she used to enter the U.S. from Mexico in 2001 has long since expired, and her 2016 application for a U-visa has not yet been processed. Since she has a previous order for deportation, Ruiz-Velasco said she can be sent back to Mexico at any time.

On Sept. 18, Ramirez filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, asking that her visa application be expedited or her deportation be stopped until her application is processed. In the meantime, the threat of deportation is constant.

“We’re hoping that since she is complying with every request they’ve made they don’t show extra force,” Ruiz-Velasco said.

Supporters waited anxiously outside the office for a half hour while Ramirez met with her deportation officer. The crowd erupted in cheers when the 67-year-old walked freely from the office.

Castellanos ran back to his grandmother’s side, looking up at her as she expressed relief that she was not detained. He said he looks forward to spending more time with his grandmother, watching movies and baking homemade bread.

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Ruiz-Velasco said Ramirez provided her proof of travel and was asked to return on Oct. 23, two days before her plane is scheduled to depart. In the meantime, they are pushing to reopen her case.

According to Ruiz-Velasco, Ramirez has a deportation order from many years ago and never appeared before a judge.

“We’re going to ask the court to consider her extreme circumstances and reopen her case,” Ruiz-Velasco said. “If they do, she will finally have a fair day in court.”

Ramirez will appear in federal court for her lawsuit against DHS at 9 a.m. on Oct. 10.