Indian Man in New York Faces Deportation Despite Being Married to U.S. Citizen
Bhavesh ‘Bobby’ Bhatt was arrested when he went for an annual interview with the ICE officials.
An Indian American deli owner in New York has been jailed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement since the approval of his marriage document to a United States citizen has been pending with the authorities.
Bhavesh ‘Bobby’ Bhatt, who has been living in the United States since 2001, was arrested on Jan. 31, 2018. He faces immediate deportation and it is not known where he is being kept.
Bhatt, 43, and his wife Jeanne Edwards, 28, got married in 2016. They became parents six months ago and their son was four months old when Bhatt was arrested during an annual interview with ICE office in New York City.
It’s now a race against time to get an approval of the marriage document, Edwards told HudsonValleyOne.com .
She started a petition on Change.org a week ago, claiming that she filed a I-130 in May 2017 but it is still pending. The form is meant to establish her relationship with Bhatt, who is an alien relative.
“I also filed a motion to reopen his deportation case and request a stay of removal pending my petition and waiver which has to be filed after. The stay has been denied and it appears ICE could remove him any minute,” she said in the petition.
“I live not knowing if he is safe,” she added, pointing out that for the last 15 years Bhatt has had a valid worker permit, drivers license, social security number, and has paid taxes.
Bhatt entered the United States by crossing through the Mexico border illegally in 2001. In 2004, the authorities caught him but due to “prosecutorial discretion,” which gave immigration authorities the decision making power about removals, he was allowed to live since he had a steady job and no criminal record, but without legal status.
Bhatt and Edwards jointly own the Glasco Deli near Mount Marion Elementary School in Saugarties, near Catskills Park in upstate New York.
With the I-130 in place, Bhatt’s removal order could be lifted and he could apply for permanent residency eventually, Bhatt’s attorney Marilyn Labrada-Dume told the HudsonValleyOne.
“This should be approved,” said Labrada-Dume. “They have a house together, they have a baby together, there’s no question that it’s a bona-fide marriage.”
She added: “Under the previous administration they were deporting people left and right, but usually because of a criminal conviction. They weren’t dividing families like this.”
With Donald Trump’s administration, immigration officers have to follow through existing removal orders even if a person has no criminal records, Labrada-Dume said, according to the report.
Edwards is meanwhile taking time off her job to keep the business afloat. She says their son also has hydrocephalus that may result in him “needing a shunt” placed into his head.
“I am overwhelmed at the thought of losing our business, home, and facing our son’s pending health issues alone. Due to the Trump administration’s changes to immigration policies my husband is now being treated as a criminal months before we would be able to fix his status,” Edwards said.