CHICAGO (October 10, 2017) – Today, after many months of stress and anxiety, Ms. Genoveva Ramirez received some good news. During her first court hearing today in her suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), representatives of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) indicated that they will begin to take steps to make a preliminary decision on Ms. Ramirez’s U-Visa case. Ms. Ramirez hopes that a favorable determination from USCIS will compel ICE to postpone her deportation. For the moment, in response to community pressure and the lawsuit ICE informed Ms. Ramirez that her next check-in has been pushed back to January 30, 2017.
Genoveva Ramirez is a 67-year-old grandmother and great-grandmother of 9, originally from Mexico, who has lived in the United States for nearly two decades. Ms. Ramirez filed a U-visa application in September 2016 after she and her grandson were physically assaulted during a home invasion and she subsequently assisted in the police investigation. The U-visa is a form of immigration protection available to victims and witnesses of certain crimes who then cooperate in the investigation or prosecution.
Yet, despite the fact that a U-Visa would confer upon Ms. Ramirez legal immigration status and stop her deportation, the Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, under the leadership of Director Ricardo Wong, has refused to grant discretion to stop Ms. Ramirez’s deportation. In fact, during an appointment in August, ICE officials had previously indicated to her that she would have to check-in with them once more to leave the country before the end of October. ICE’s unrelenting pursuit of Ms. Ramirez’s deportation continues, despite previous grants of discretion and widespread and ongoing support from community members and local and federal elected officials.
In response to their cruel and stubborn insistence on separating her from her family and community, in September 2017 Ms. Ramirez filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to demand USCIS, a sub-agency, review her long-pending visa application before ICE, another sub-agency, seeks to deport her. In her lawsuit, Ms. Ramirez is asking the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Court to order USCIS to either make a preliminary determination that she is eligible for a U-visa and have ICE stay her removal, or adjudicate her application entirely so that she can stay in the United States.
Following today’s hearing, Ms. Ramirez shared,
“I am excited to hear that my next check-in has been pushed back to January. The news will allow me and my family, my grandchildren included, to all sleep a little bit better these next couple of months. It also re-affirms my belief in the power of our community. I know that ICE is responding to the tremendous pressure which community has applied. However, until USCIS grants me a U-Visa, I know that this is far from over. I am going to continue to move forward with my lawsuit and am asking for community members to please continue to support and to remember that organizing works.”
Ms. Ramirez’s next court date in federal court is scheduled for November 6, 2017.
Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) is an undocumented-led group that organizes against the deportation and criminalization of Black, Brown and immigrant communities in Chicago and surrounding areas.
The West Suburban Action Project (PASO) is a grassroots, community-based social justice organization that builds strong communities through intersectional organizing, leadership development, education and civic engagement so people can live and thrive, regardless of race, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic level.
The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. Visit immigrantjustice.org and follow @NIJC.
Service Employees International Union Local 1 unites 50,000 workers throughout the Midwest including janitors, security officers, higher education faculty, food service workers, and others. Local 1 is committed to improving the lives of its members and all working people by winning real economic justice and standing at the forefront of the fight for immigrant, racial, and environmental justice.