Father facing deportation reunited with family in St. Paul

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A father has been reunited with his family in St. Paul after facing deportation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement took Armando Miranda Enriquez into custody on Jan. 13. He was granted a stay of removal earlier this month after an outpouring of support from the community, including elected officials.

Last Thursday, he returned to Minnesota.

“I feel like God has given my life back,” said Enriquez. “I feel overwhelmingly happy.”

KSTP spoke to Enriquez with the help of interpreter Heidi Romanish.

He shared his relief over receiving the six-month temporary stay, which will allow him to be by his 6-year-old son Jairo’s side through treatment.

“He was born with a genetic disorder, so he gets sick a lot. He keeps having to go back for more and more treatments,” Enriquez said. “It is a great suffering to see that your child is suffering. You want them to be happy, you want them to be healthy, so it is difficult as a parent.”

Jairo’s treatment could include a bone marrow transplant.

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Enriquez faced deportation back to Honduras. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS verified he doesn’t have a criminal record locally or federally but he’s been deported before, so entering the U.S. again was a felony.

“No one is ever prepared to be taken away like that,” he said. “It’s been really difficult … to not be able to see your family, to not be able to talk to them and especially not being able to talk with the children, this is something very hard for children to understand.”

His wife, Mirna Landaverde, said she never gave up hope and fought to bring him home.

“It was very, very difficult,” she said. “I mean, you have all of these thoughts and you have all of this weight over your head.”

An ICE official with knowledge of the case told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that due to his history of entering the country illegally, Enriquez will never be able to get citizenship or any other legal means of staying in the U.S. permanently.

Toward the end of the six months, however, he can apply for another stay with documentation explaining why. The ICE field office director would then make another decision.

“We’re going to keep fighting for our dreams,” Landaverde said. “Not only for our dreams but the dreams of our children and we're going to be fighting to stay here.”

Enriquez told us he’s not worried about what will happen when his six months expire.

“I’m calm now,” he said. “I'm here with my family, and this is another great opportunity I’ve been given in my life.”

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He’s been in Minnesota for about 14 years and opened his own painting and remodeling business. We asked why he didn’t seek citizenship.

“Thinking you're going to be separated from your family and living in that fear, I think many people don't apply,” he said.

Enriquez moved to the U.S. seeking a better life for his family.

“We always believed and know this to be the country of opportunities,” he said. “We are not here trying to be a drain on the country, we’re here to be productive.”

His attorney, Danielle Robinson Briand, said they are hoping for immigration reform, “which could create new legal mechanisms for regularizing the immigration status of Armando and the millions of others who are similarly situated.”

The case gained the support of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Sen. Tina Smith and Gov. Tim Walz’s office made calls on his behalf.

Sen. Klobuchar released a statement expressing her support for Enriquez and his family:

“I am relieved to hear that Armando Enriquez’s stay was granted and that he will be able to remain in the U.S. given his need to care for his son Jairo through his bone marrow transplant surgery and other treatments that are necessary to address his rare genetic disorder. No family should be torn apart in their time of need, and I am glad that our office was able to support Armando’s efforts to remain with his family. Our thoughts are with Jairo during his surgery and recovery.”