Separated family calls on White House to help reunite noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens

WASHINGTON — A family is taking their fight to be reunited to the White House.

Since 2020, we’ve been telling you about Jason Rochester’s push to reunite his family with his wife, as their young son battled cancer.

Cecilia Gonzalez-Carmona was undocumented living in Georgia with her husband Jason and son Ashton, who are U.S. citizens.

She self-deported to Mexico in 2018 after receiving bad legal advice.

They later learned she would not even be able to apply to re-enter the U.S. for ten years.

During that time, Ashton underwent treatment after a tumor was found on his kidney.

“January will be six years without his mom,” said Jason Rochester. “Cancer. Surgeries. Chemo radiation and he didn’t have his mom to be there.”

Thankfully, the 10-year-old fifth grader is now in good health.

But their fight to bring Cecilia home continues, with little progress from leaders in Washington.

At least two House Democrats are now calling on President Biden to use his parole authority to reunite families like Jason’s on a case-by-case basis.

“Family is the most fundamental institution in society,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington). “But today, nearly 1.7 million U.S. citizens are married to an undocumented person, and approximately 4.9 million U.S. citizen children have at least one undocumented parent. These families live in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. We are calling on the administration to grant parole in place to undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens who are living here and raising families, and create a family reunification parole process for the spouses of U.S. citizens who are outside the United States, so these families can be made whole again.”

“Millions of mixed-status families across our country need immediate relief,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas). “President Biden has the potential to both dramatically improve our economy and the lives of American families by authorizing a parole program for the noncitizen spouses of US citizens. I’m grateful to the President for all he has done to create new legal pathways. While I urge him to expand that compassionate, strategic effort for this specific group of American families, making lasting comprehensive immigration reforms falls on Congress, which has refused to act on this issue for decades.”

Escobar introduced bipartisan legislation in previous sessions that would give the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security the ability to use discretion in certain immigration cases, but it never made it to a full vote in Congress.

“It seems as though every time there’s a little bit of glimmer of possibility, something comes up,” said Rochester. “I know other things are important as well, but to me, my family is important.”

Rochester points out that it’s not only his family in need of help.

According to lawmakers, nearly 1.7 million U.S. citizens are married to an undocumented person, and around 4.9 million U.S. citizen children have at least one undocumented parent.

“We’re just one example of millions of people that need support,” said Rochester.

The Rochester family said they are hoping the Biden administration will heed their calls for immediate action, while they also hope for a long term solution to come from Congress, too.

“I don’t want to give up on Ashton,” said Jason Rochester. “I don’t want to give up on my wife and that’s all I have is to tell my story.”

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