A husband and father in Elyria will fly back to Mexico on Thursday at the order of federal immigration. The case of Pedro Hernandez is drawing attention because of his unique situation, even Cleveland’s new Roman Catholic Bishop is speaking out in support of him.
Every day, Pedro Hernandez cares for his stepson. 28-year-old Juan has cerebral palsy and needs round-the-clock attention, things like feedings and diaper changes. Pedro is the only one who can move Juan to and from his wheelchair.
Wednesday morning, Pedro’s wife of 14 years, Seleste, took the call from her lawyer that Pedro’s stay was canceled. He must fly back to Mexico on Thursday.
“There’s nothing good that can come out of this, nothing. Now I’m going to be husbandless. My kids are going to be fatherless and what’s coming next, homeless?” said Seleste.
Pedro works in agriculture and Seleste at a nursing facility. They take opposite shifts so someone is always home to care for Juan. Seleste has two other adult daughters. They have a son together, too, 9-year-old Louie. He
Cleveland’s new Roman Catholic Bishop Nelson Perez has taken special interest in the case and has become an advocate for the family.
“I would love someone to explain to me that given the circumstances of this particular case -- how is this the right thing to do?” said Perez.
Pedro has been deported before. He returned to Elyria illegally in 2013, to help care for Juan. He currently has a valid work permit through February 2018 and was working toward a green card.
Nevertheless, ICE has made the decision to deport him. Pedro’s lawyer, David Leopold, says if he had not previously returned to the U. S. illegally then Pedro could go to the consulate in Mexico and apply for a green card. But now, because of his unlawful status, he’ll be barred from legally applying to come back for 10 years.
Leopold said it's not a matter of what's lawful in this case, it's a matter of what's moral.
"If this case didn't get ICE to open their heart and put aside the outdated law and put aside the technicalities and do the right thing, I don't know that there is a case," Leopold said. "I'm trying to understand myself the logic of removing him."
Pedro told us he is “destroyed” through his wife who translated for him.
“Isn’t there enough broken families in the United States? Isn’t there enough children that are fatherless?” said Seleste.
David Leopold says the federal government claims they’re going after so-called “bad hombres,” but he says those are the ones who run. It takes time, resources and money to hunt down undocumented criminals. Leopold calls Pedro “low hanging fruit.” He says it’s people like Pedro who are really being deported – the ones who are easy to find because they’re at home with their families.
Pedro had to buy his own plane ticket back to Mexico. He flies out from Hopkins International Airport Thursday afternoon.
WATCH BELOW: Dorsena Drakeford continued our coverage on Wednesday evening with more thoughts from Hernandez attorney David Leopold