Carly Wanna

Community members gathered on Thursday night to protest the imminent deportation of a New Haven resident.

A crowd of roughly 30 people gathered at the steps of City Hall, calling for a stay on the impending deportation of Nelson Pinos Gonzalez, an undocumented New Haven resident who migrated from Ecuador. Unidad Latina en Acción — a grassroots immigrant activist group that Pinos Gonzales has been a member of for one year — organized the rally and, last Wednesday, drafted a petition for the cause that has received over 800 signatures.

“I’m afraid that my kids are going to lose everything because I’m their support. I don’t want them to struggle like I did when I was a kid back home,” Pinos Gonzalez told reporters. “If I leave … I know they’re going to suffer. I believe every kid deserves to have both parents with them.”

During an Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in in early October, Pinos Gonzalez was asked to return to Ecuador on a one-way ticket by the end of the month. Two weeks ago, the manufacturing company that has employed Pinos Gonzalez for 15 years requested he not come to work until his legal status was fixed. He has not returned to work since.

Pinos Gonzalez has lived in the United States since 1993 and is the sole provider for three children.

“I just hope [ICE] understands this is wrong. Why are they separating families? This is so wrong,” said Kelly Pinos, Pinos Gonzalez’s 15-year-old daughter. “I want my daddy here.”

The petition requests that ICE allow Pinos Gonzalez to stay in New Haven. The petition also calls on elected officials — including Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, and Field Office Director Chris Conen — to come to Pinos Gonzalez’s aid.

John Lugo, another ULA member, said that Pinos Gonzalez pays taxes and has no criminal record. At the rally, Lugo called on Congress to reform immigration laws and to repeal those that are hurting productive members of the community.

Mayor Toni Harp thanked the crowd and assured attendees that New Haven would remain a welcoming city to the immigrant community. 

“It is time that Congress does something about our immigration laws,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure that those laws protect our citizens, those that have been here, been paying taxes and have been contributing members of our community. I stand with you.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Hartford field office could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Beatrice Codianni, who attended Thursday’s action, reflected on her father’s 1910 migration to the United States, saying what is happening to Pinos Gonzalez could be happening to anybody.

“If he came now, he probably would have been deported,” Codianni said. “This could be my family. I feel so strongly that this is so wrong.”

In a statement, ICE said Pinos Gonzalez was issued a final order of removal in 2015 by a federal immigration judge, according to NBC Connecticut. ICE said Pinos Gonzalez has been checking into the ICE office periodically and intends to comply with his removal order. If he fails to depart as scheduled, the statement said, “he will be listed as an immigration fugitive and arrested when encountered, at which time ICE will carry out his removal.”

On Nov. 6, 17 advocates from ULA and the Connecticut Bail Fund protested Pinos Gonzalez’s impending deportation in front of the Hartford Immigration Court.

The Gonzalez case follows other recent deportation orders. On Aug. 8, Marco Reyes, another undocumented Ecuadorian immigrant who has lived in Connecticut for 20 years, sought sanctuary at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven. In early October, Sujitno Sajuti, an undocumented West Hartford resident who first came to the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1981, sought sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden.

All of Pinos Gonzalez’s children were born in the United States.

Isabel Bysiewicz | isabel.bysiewicz@yale.edu

Carly Wanna | carly.wanna@yale.edu