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Va. immigrant’s case and fate now rests in New Orleans

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR) – A Honduran immigrant who said he followed all correct procedures, faces deportation and separation from American wife and child.

Roberto Cedillos always found peace when fishing at Lakeview Park in Colonial Heights.

“We came here every day,” says Cedillos’ 13- year old stepdaughter Victoria Morales.

These days, his family comes to the park alone, hoping and praying they will see him again.

“Imagine if you didn’t have family, you’d feel alone,” says Morales.  “That’s how I’m feeling, alone.”

“It’s been a nightmare,” adds Cedillos’ wife, Linda.  “My best friend is gone.”

Cedillos came to the United States in 2005, assuming he would qualify for a U.S. Visa because the U.S. had granted Hondurans temporary protective status visas in the past.

After arriving in Texas, Cedillos turned himself into U.S. Immigration officials, where he was processed and released.

But in February of 2006, Cedillos mistakenly missed a court date in Texas involving his immigration status.

Linda Cedillos, who was not married to her husband at the time, says Cedillos had moved to New York to find work.

“He didn’t speak English and he didn’t know the judicial system,” says Cedillos.

A year later, Cedillos moved to Colonial Heights, Virginia, where he met and married his American-born wife.  He also took in her daughter and became the sole father-figure in her life.

“My husband is there for every soccer game and every school function,” says Cedillos.  “When she’s sick, he takes care of her.”

Over the past four years, Cedillos says she and her husband have been filing for his residency and have paid out thousands of dollars in application and legal fees.

Cedillos also says her husband has continuously paid taxes and social security, working jobs in construction and in restaurants.

However, in February, officials with the U.S. Government showed up at Cedillos’ home and arrested him with deportation orders.

He was taken to a detention facility in Farmville, and transferred on Monday to a detention center in New Orleans.  Immigration officials tell the family that he will be deported by the end of the week.

“He just didn’t come in and stay,” argues Cedillos.  “He tried to do the right thing.”

Immigration attorney Dustin Dyer says he’s aware of several similar stories, but says what’s ironic about Cedillos’ case, is that the Obama Administration has asked immigration officials to use discretion when deporting illegal immigrants in cases like this.

“If you see positive factors like length of residency in the U.S., payment of taxes, family members that are U.S. citizens, lack of a criminal record, these are all things the government should consider,” says Dyer.

Cedillos’ family pastor, Mike Cherry, says all these factors apply to Cedillos.

“Here’s a guy who’s done nothing wrong,” says Cherry.  “Even when he got here he turned himself in to do things the right way and he’s being punished and more importantly, his family is being punished.”

The family says they’ve turned to their faith for answers.   They say they hope their prayers are being heard.

“If we keep doing this, I know he’s coming back,” says Victoria Morales in tears.  “There’s no doubt about it.”

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