Sunday, September 14, 2008
Fear of Deportation
Gennady Denisenko defected from the Soviet Union to the United Stated in 1991. He considered America his new home. But now, immigration officers want to send him back to the country he fled.
Melinda and Gennady Denisenko got married in 2002, 11 years after he fled the Soviet Union to seek political asylum in America. "A family in Pensacola, Florida, helped to make that happen, got him here legally on a visiting visa," shared Melinda.
The couple eventually made it to Charlottesville where Gennady began to work on his doctorate at the University of Virginia and where he continued to fight for permanent resident status. Melinda said, "It's a battle. A very large, uphill battle."
The couple thought they had a break in April when federal authorities summoned them to Fairfax to complete some immigration paperwork. But during the meeting, the feds arrested Gennady.
Melinda remembered, "They took him. They did not tell me where they were taking him. And of course, as you can imagine, I freaked out."
Investigators said they had a final deportation order for Gennady and took him to a federal prison in Texas with plans to send him back to Russia. "It's horrible. It is -- there are really no words to describe the pain, the anger," said Melinda.
Melinda says her husband could face torture or even death if he's deported. She's appealing to a federal immigration court to re-open the case. Melinda insists, "My husband has slipped through the cracks. He loves America."
Melinda also says that there's no time frame for deportation or for her appeal. They called immigration and customs enforcement in Washington Friday to talk about the case. No one has returned the phone calls.