Victory! Deportation Halted!

Immigration officials agree to hear case of an Ugandan woman married to a Michigan man.
The stay will prevent Monica’s impending deportation and keep her family together for now.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reopened the case of Monica Bandutsya-Talbot, an Ugandan woman faced with threat of deportation despite her marriage to Frank Talbot, a Michigan resident and US citizen. The BIA remanded Monica’s case Tuesday to the Immigration Judge who will consider her Application to Adjust Status. The Board’s order preempts Monica’s removal order meaning she will not need to depart the US on September 20th as scheduled.

Over the past 17 years, while she fought for her right to stay in this country, Monica worked multiple jobs to get through nursing school and now works as an RN at Beaumont hospital. Her daughter, Rita also worked her way through college, earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University. But sadly, the perceived hopelessness of her situation got to her. “On March 25th, 2013 out of frustration and the threat of imminent deportation, my daughter Rita took her own life.” Monica told a crowd of immigration reform supporters outside the Wayne County building earlier in the day. “She was 23 years old with a lot of life ahead of her.”

Frank and Monica were interviewed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) who found their marriage to be bona fide and approved their petition for residency, bringing Monica another step closer to citizenship.  But for some reason, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) opposed the union and continued to proceed with her deportation. “How is that fair?” Monica asked.  “We are so frustrated, but we are not alone.  We have the support of family and friends and are struggling with other families like the Lopezes and the Cornejos.”

Ever Cornejo and Alvaro Lopez are now in a similar predicament and are hoping for a similar outcome. Ever is currently in detention awaiting deportation; Alvaro is supposed to turn himself in Thursday.  Ever’s wife spoke at the Tuesday rally while Alvaro appeared with his two young daughters.

“I’m relieved that the BIA stepped in and put a stop to this madness.” said Diego Bonesatti, the legal services director at Michigan United who has been helping with the Talbots’ case. “But it says more about the mindset of ICE.  Rebecca Adducci doesn’t have to deport every case that comes across her desk regardless of who it hurts. She can keep Ever together with his wife and Alvaro with his kids. She doesn’t just have the power to do it, she has the responsibility to do it.”

Before she got the news of the BIA decision, Monica told her story outside the Wayne County Building. Later, Detroit City Council voted unanimously in support of pro-immigrant resolutions .