Federal immigration officials granted a one-year stay of deportation Tuesday to a Honduran woman suffering from postpartum depression, more than five years after she was arrested at a massive factory raid in New Bedford.
Lessy Noelia Ramos, a 27-year-old mother of two, had tried to fight deportation, but lost her case in Boston immigration court in 2009 and again on appeal last year. She was to prepare for her departure Wednesday by reporting to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Burlington with an airplane ticket and her Honduran passport, but lawmakers, immigrant advocates, and others launched an effort to help her stay.
US Senator John F. Kerry, US Representatives Barney Frank, and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, and immigrant advocates lobbied federal officials to delay Ramos’s deportation, pointing out her ties to her church and community, her two US-born children, and her lack of a criminal record. Immigrant advocates organized a vigil yesterday at Arlington Street Church in Boston, collected signatures in an online petition, and called immigration offices in support.
ICE officials confirmed that they granted her a stay, but did not elaborate on the circumstances of her case. “As an exercise of discretion, ICE granted a one-year stay of removal after reviewing all factors of the case,’’ said spokesman Ross Feinstein.
Frank said Ramos’s case did not reflect ICE’s priorities for deportation, which include criminals and other serious violators of immigration law, such as those who reentered the United States after being deported.
“This is an example of the dysfunctional aspect of immigration enforcement,’’ Frank said by phone. “In this situation there’s nothing to be gained by taking this woman out. She’s guilty of trying to work hard.’’
Others who favor stricter controls over immigration have said that federal officials should deport immigrants such as Ramos, who crossed the border illegally.
Ramos said she has suffered from severe postpartum depression, including crying jags and fatigue, since giving birth to her second child, Steve, two months ago. She also has a 4-year-old daughter and feared for the health of both children if she had to return to Honduras.
“I don’t understand it,’’ said Ramos, who still lives in New Bedford, just before the stay was issued. “Why, if a person comes to work to improve the economy, do they want to kick us out?’’
Ramos said she came to America in 2006 because she was destitute and unemployed, unable to afford more than a primary-school education in her hometown in the central mountains of Honduras.
In New Bedford, she found work sewing survival vests at the Michael Bianco Inc. leather-goods factory, a defense contractor that produced backpacks and other accessories for the US military. But in March 2007, immigration officials raided the business, arresting the owner, managers, and 361 immigrants, mostly from Central America.
Many immigrants have since been deported, while some, with the help of lawyers, have pleaded their cases in immigration court and were allowed to stay. Others, such as Ramos, remain in the United States pending deportation.Maria Sacchetti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti.