An East Hartford father is being deported, but on Thursday his supporters were hoping for a different outcome.
Domingo Ferreira reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Hartford on Thursday. He has lived here legally for 30 years, and his deportation to the Dominican Republic has already been postponed twice.
Ferreira had his identity stolen, tipping off ICE that he committed a crime over a decade ago. He admitted to stealing a purse and a wallet 12 years ago. Ferreira did jail time for the larceny charge. Even though his record has been clean ever since, under law, that crime can be grounds for deportation.
His family had filed a letter in hopes the deportation can be postponed again, but Ferreira was taken into custody on Thursday afternoon.
Ferreira's wife Diane Ferreira said customs enforcement officials didn't tell her anything after he was taken away.
"They asked us to go to another room and they took him into custody and wouldn't even let me see him one last time," Diane Ferreira said.
Eyewitness News spoke to Domingo before he went inside to report to ICE on Thursday. He said he was concerned.
"I'm so scared to be separated from my family. I think we dealt through a lot," Domingo Ferreira said. "You know my wife is a strong woman and has been through a lot, especially today. She's very nervous."
Domingo’s wife and daughter have been battling illnesses, and that was part of the reason why his time in the U.S. was extended twice.
On Thursday afternoon, Diane Ferreira went back to ICE, as she was told she can bring Domingo one suitcase.
“How generous, after 30 years in this country, I’m supposed to go home and condense everything under 40 pounds,” she said.
Diane Ferreira said she did get to see her husband. He was shackled and it was only for a few minutes.
ICE hasn't said when Domingo will be brought to the Dominican Republic, but it could take months.
"I asked for a hardship stay to give us an opportunity to address the identity theft, so my husband would be safe," Domingo Ferreira said. "You're basically deporting him to somewhere where they think he's informant based on the perpetrators actions. You're giving him a life sentence."
Domingo also has diabetes and nowhere to live when he gets to the country.
His lawyer Chester Fairlie said "there were good reasons to have postponed Domingo's deportation. He has shown hard working and good qualities for twelve years.
"The priorities of ICE need to be examined and protested," Fairlie said in a statement on Thursday.
Eyewitness News reached out to ICE on Thursday. They said Ferreira was previously granted a stay of removal two times "to allow him to get his affairs in order before ICE carried out the judicial order to remove him to his home country."
“Ferreira has been convicted of multiple criminal offenses for larceny, which put him in the “Aggravated Felon” category under immigration law. Based on certified court transcripts, ICE considers Ferreira a danger to public safety. ICE will proceed with carrying out the lawfully ordered removal.”
"ICE has thoroughly reviewed all evidence in the case, including information submitted by Ferreira. The agency exercised discretion based on emergent circumstances that Ferreira’s family faced and granted additional time to Ferreira on two occasions. However, due to the totality of circumstances in his case, including the fact that Ferreira was convicted of multiple felonies which made him a threat to public safety, his lawfully ordered removal is consistent with law and policy. Once a Final Order of Removal is issued ICE must carry out that order in as timely a manner as possible," ICE went on to say.
"There is so much more to this story and so many people don't realize the danger he is going to be in," Diane Ferreira said.
The family has a fundraising page set up, which can be found here.
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