A Norwalk woman said she never got the chance to kiss her husband goodbye before he was unexpectedly detained and deported to Mexico.
Joanna Perez, who is an American citizen, said her husband was detained last week and she didn’t know he’d been deported until he was already in Mexico on Thursday.
Edson Perez-Perez had been regularly attending immigration court hearings and interviews since his illegal status was uncovered in 2013 when he was a passenger in a traffic stop.
Perez has no other criminal record and does not drive because he does not have a valid drivers license.
Court records obtained by News 5 show that Perez and her husband had successfully completed the first step in obtaining a marriage visa as of Feb. 3.
But in the meantime, Perez-Perez’s deportation proceedings continued.
He obtained a notice for an “interview” with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at their office in downtown Cleveland on March 29.
Perez said her husband had received similar notices in the past and the appointments were relatively short. But this time she waited in the lobby of the building for an hour and a half before asking when her husband would be allowed to leave.
“He won’t be coming home,” Perez said she was told.
When she asked where he was being detained and what would happen to him, she said no one would tell her.
“I didn’t even get to kiss him and hug him goodbye,” she said tearfully.
Ultimately Perez-Perez was transferred to Geauga County jail, then to a detention center in Louisiana. But Joanna Perez was unaware.
Immigration attorney Brian DiFranco told News 5 the lack of communication is typical for deportation cases.
“They’re not obligated to give the family any information about the process because the process itself is a security issue,” DiFranco explained.
He has seen a surge in undocumented clients like Perez-Perez with non-criminal backgrounds being deported since President Donald Trump took office at the end of January.
In the past, he said this case would likely not have been considered a deportation priority.
“But the new rules are for the most part that every person who violated immigration law at some point in the past is a priority,” DiFranco explained.
While Perez knew this day might come, she’s upset that there hasn’t been more communication with her family.
“I just want some information, I just want to know,” she explained.
Perez-Perez still has the opportunity to continue his marriage visa case from Mexico, but DiFranco said the process will take much longer and could be costly.