A New Fairfield family is just weeks away from being torn apart.
Joel Colindres says he has spent the last seven years trying to become a citizen and has stayed out of trouble, only to be denied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“They just came out with a letter that said it’s been denied and you have 30 days to leave the country,” Joel Colindres said in a one-on-one interview with Eyewitness News.
Colindres admits he entered the United States illegally 13 years ago, crossing over the Texas border. He turned himself in after others in his group were caught, but was released provisionally.
That’s when he moved to New York and met his wife Samantha. They got married, moved to Connecticut and that’s when he started the process of becoming a citizen.
It was then, when he learned a deportation order was out for him. It all stemmed from a missed court appearance back when he crossed the border.
“It was for never going to a court date that he had missed in Texas. We were able to obtain documents through that prove the address was incorrect as well as his first and last name,” Samantha Colindres said.
Since then, it has been a grueling seven-year battle, with the Colindres’ having to document nearly every aspect of their lives and send it to immigration officials.
Joel’s stay was set to expire on June 1. The family says ICE officials pushed the appointment to renew until after June 1, saying they didn’t have the file. When they finally met last week, Joel was told he had 30 days to leave.
“This country has given so much to me already, so I love the country,” Joel Colindres said.
Harboring no resentment, the family is fighting to stay together.
“All we’re asking for is more time to fight his case,” his wife said.
If successful, they’ll stay. If not, they say they’re prepared to leave together.
“I’m not going to have him go and I’m not going to stay here, the four of us will stay together. That’s what matters to me,” Samantha Colindres said.
On Monday, U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy made contact with the family, promising to help.
A public rally at ICE offices on Main Street in Hartford is also being organized for Thursday. Eyewitness News has not heard back from ICE offices.
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