This DACA Recipient Was Assured He Could Get A Visa In Mexico To Start His Green Card Process But Got Denied
Mexican-born Marco Villada traveled to his native country on the promise that in order to get his green card, he’d have to first get a visa from the U.S. consulate. It was the last step Marco needed to have full protection from deportation because his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status just wasn’t stable enough — at least not under the Trump Administration.
Villada is eligible for a green card because his husband, Israel Serrato, is a U.S. citizen. However, during his interview at the U.S. Consulate things didn’t go according to plan for the DACA recipient.
The U.S. Consulate denied Marco his visa, which meant he couldn’t return to the U.S. with his husband.
Villada and his husband traveled to Mexico for two weeks in order to be interviewed at the U.S. Consulate and get his visa. He was promised re-entry to the U.S. through a provisional wavier provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) back in January.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, writer Catherine Rampell notes that under U.S. law, U.S. citizens can sponsor green cards for their immigrant spouses, which is what Serrato intended to do for Villada. However, the immigrant in question must first go back to their birth country and apply for a visa through the U.S. Consulate in order to return. Then, they can continue the process of a green card legally.
“Leaving the country is risky, though,” Rampell writes. “Normally if you’ve spent more than six months here unlawfully and you leave, you’re barred from coming back for years. Sometimes forever.”
Villada left Mexico at the age of 6 and has been in the U.S. ever since. Now he’s with family that he’s never really known.
“I’m an American stuck in the wrong country,” Villada said, according to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “I don’t belong here. I belong in Los Angeles. My husband, my family, my job, my life — everything is there.”
Serrato adds that Villada’s absence has devastated not just his life, but his family in the U.S. as well.
“This isn’t just hard on us, it’s impacting our family, Marco’s coworkers, and so many other people in our lives,” Serrato told NILC. “But despite all of this, we remain hopeful that our government will do the right thing and we will be together at home again soon.”
The 34-year-old is now suing the U.S. State Department and immigration services.
? My client Israel explains how the Trump admin failed him & his husband, Marco, a #DACA recipient who left the country (with gov't assurances) for an interview to get his green card, but was prevented from returning home. Stand with us to #BringMarcoBack pic.twitter.com/rML8xiPopO
— Josh Rosenthal (@jarosenthal) April 11, 2018
NILC states that the U.S. Consulate denied his visa on ungrounded terms.
“USCIS also failed to properly notify [Villada] that the information he provided in his visa application could render the provisional waiver he received invalid,” the NILC stated in a press release.
The lawsuit alleges that immigration services neglected to inform Villada that his waiver would be nullified based on his case.
Not only is the Trump-Pence regime betraying America’s promise, they’re breaking the promises officers give to couples like this one. Yet another immigration injustice, and once again @NILC_org is fighting for justice…and love. #BringMarcoBack https://t.co/vx7c1qqnAH
— Evan Wolfson (@evanwolfson) April 10, 2018
“I don’t know if they were lazy and sloppy or looking for ways to trap people,” Villada’s lawyer Stacy Tolchin told The Washington Post. “Either way, they have an obligation to do their job, and they didn’t do it.”
“Immigrant youth like Marco are an inextricable part of our communities,” Nora Preciado, senior staff attorney at the NILC said in a released statement. “Marco is a loving spouse, a model employee, a brother to an active duty military member, and a vibrant member of the LGBTQ community. Our anti-immigrant policies don’t just hurt immigrants — they hurt all of us.”