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Deportation Order a ‘Death Sentence’ for CT Man

Nelson Omar Rosales Santos, center, his wife and three children. (Photo courtesy the Rosales Santos family)
Nelson Omar Rosales Santos, center, his wife and three children. (Photo courtesy the Rosales Santos family)
June 14, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. — Immigrant-rights advocates are calling a judge's deportation order a de-facto death sentence.

Nelson Omar Rosales Santos has a wife and children who are U.S. citizens. He has no criminal record and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has approved his application for a green card. He also has Type 2 diabetes and is scheduled for a life-saving kidney transplant later this summer.

But according to Catalina Horak, executive director of Building One Community, a Stanford-based organization, a judge has ordered his deportation for next Monday, June 18, to Honduras - a country he hasn't seen in 30 years.

"If he goes without having dialysis for more than a couple of days, his health is compromised,” Horak explained. “And the long-term prospects of him having a transplant down in Honduras are almost nonexistent. So, it's really a life and death situation."

Rosales Santos missed an appearance in immigration court 30 years ago, which made him eligible for removal. Public officials, faith leaders and other supporters will be outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Hartford at 4 p.m. Thursday to speak out against the deportation order.

Horak pointed out that the final requirement getting his green card is that Rosales Santos return to Honduras while the U.S. Embassy there completes the process. But his doctors say he shouldn't travel at all until he has fully recovered from the transplant.

"That's what makes his case so compelling and so heartbreaking,” she said. “He has a way to legalize his status. It's just a timing issue."

Attorneys representing Rosales Santos are asking the judge to grant him a temporary stay, allowing him to remain in this country for a year.

Horak said without that stay, he might be denied the chance for a kidney transplant at all.

"The doctors are not going to do the transplant unless they know that he will be eligible to stay in the country for at least one year because they will need to monitor his heath very, very closely after the transplant,” Horack explained.

She added that while Rosales Santos has health insurance here, even if a transplant were available in Honduras, he might not be able to afford it.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT