Family faces deportation in 2014 because of health issues


The holiday season is a time of year when people celebrate with family and friends, sharing their thankfulness for the things they have.

And while the Nanez family, who moved here from the Philippines a few years ago, haven’t exactly had things going their way in recent months, they still have what counts the most: each other.

Jojo, 38, and Emilyn, 34, are a young couple who came here over five years ago to start a new life. Utilizing her work visa, Emilyn started work as a lab technician with Gonzales Healthcare Systems in 2008. Jojo, who worked as a college professor in the Philippines, followed her less than a year later on a dependent visa.

Things were going well for the pair until Emilyn suffered a stroke after the birth of their second child in March 2013. She had a second stroke in June of that same year, rendering her unable to work because she became partially paralyzed. This has made it much more difficult to support the family —which now included their daughters Almira Isabelle, who is almost 4, and Arwen Faye, who will celebrate her first birthday in March.

Jojo remembers his wife coming home from work one night saying her blood pressure was high, and he thought she would just sleep through it and be OK. But around 10 a.m. the following day, Emily began screaming in pain and asked him to get her some Tylenol.

“So I went to the kitchen to get it,” he says, “and when I got back she was slurring her speech. I called 911 and EMS got here minutes later.

“I haven’t been able to work since the stroke,” Emilyn says. “Now I am on short-term disability.”

Sadly, Jojo can’t work here in the States because restrictions on the dependent visa include no employment.

“If they find out you’re working, they deport you back home,” he says. “Both our visas expire in July. It would be much easier on us if the hospital would continue to extend her H1V, but it can’t happen because she can’t work.”

Jojo consulted an immigration lawyer in New York, asking him about expediting the green card. But he told him there was no such thing.

“But there are exceptions,” Jojo notes. “Under his discretion, the [immigration] director could make an executive decision saying certain people could stay, based on their situation.”

In a way, Jojo is thankful Emilyn was here in America when she had her strokes.

“Had it happened in our country, she might not have survived because hospitals there demand down payment before treatment,” he says. “But here, you get treated and receive the bills later.”

Since Emilyn has to get blood work done on a weekly basis, it would be virtually impossible for her to get it done in her country because she wouldn’t be able to front the bill for it.

“In Philippine hospitals, most patients are put in a wheelchair or in a bed beside the registration and just wait to die,” Jojo laments. “It’s sad, but that’s the way it is. She didn’t do anything wrong. It just happens that she got sick.”

The Nanez family now faces possible deportation to their native Davao City, which, along with its surrounding area, has endured a multitude of devastating earthquakes over the past several months.