HARTFORD, Conn. — Supporters of a Connecticut resident who was scheduled to undergo a kidney transplant this summer are protesting a decision by U.S. immigration officials to instead deport him to his native Honduras.
A rally is planned Thursday afternoon in front of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement offices in Hartford in support of Nelson Omar Rosales Santos, 49, who is scheduled to be deported on Monday.
His family and supporters say Santos entered the country illegally but has lived in Stamford for 30 years, is married to a U.S. citizen and has three children, ages 19, 14 and 11, who were all born in the United States.
He also has diabetes, high blood pressure and is in renal failure, requiring dialysis every two days.
If Santos is forced to fly to Honduras, a country he has not seen in three decades, he would not have immediate access to dialysis and likely would be dead within a week, said his attorney, Glenn Formica.
“I don’t want to die,” Santos said in an email Thursday. “My kids and wife need me.”
Federal immigration officials had no immediate comment Thursday on Santos’ situation.
Santos works as a chef and has routinely received waivers allowing him to stay in the U.S., his supporters said.
His wife has successfully petitioned immigration officials to allow her husband to receive a green card. But, because of his 30-year-old deportation order, he was told he must leave the country during that process, said Catalina Horak, who is working on Santos’ behalf with the immigration support group, Building One Community.
Formica said he is filing two separate requests to delay Santos’ deportation. The first, before the federal Board of Immigration appeals, argues that the original deportation order was defective. The second, before ICE, requests a humanitarian stay of the deportation to allow Santos to receive a new kidney.
“I just don’t believe we are this vicious as a country,” Formica said. “This policy speaks otherwise.”
Santos, who has private insurance through his wife, had a surgery date scheduled for later this month, but doctors will not do the procedure until they receive assurances that he will be available for follow-up visits and treatment, Horak said.
Santos is willing to leave the country as required while awaiting his green card, Horak said, but can’t do that until his medical situation is resolved.
“He works, he has insurance, he has a private donor,” Horak said. “He’s not doing this on anyone else’s dime. He has an avenue for legalizing his situation. That’s what makes this case so compelling.”