HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — In an I-Team follow-up story, efforts are intensifying to help an area businessman regain admittance into the United States.
Ricardo Santos, the owner of several food trucks and a Mexican restaurant in Luzerne County is stranded in Mexico after going there trying to start the process to obtain legal residency.
There are new developments Friday night in an ongoing I-Team Investigation into an immigration controversy involving a well-known Luzerne County business owner.
22/28 News first told last month you about 52-year-old Ricardo Santos from Hazleton he is stranded in Mexico after returning there to try to obtain legal residency here in the U.S.
Ricardo Santos admits he entered the United States illegally in 1988 and 1999, but now wants to make it right, but he and his supporters say he is now stranded in Mexico because of a broken immigration system.
“It has been already 41 days since I left my family. My family my business and my community and I really miss you all a lot,” said Santos.
Ricardo Santos gets emotional when he talks about his effort to re-enter the United States.
He owns several food trucks like this one near Interstate 80 in Sugarloaf Township as well as a restaurant that specializes in Mexican food.
He returned to Mexico to obtain legal residency. He went to the U.S. Embassy and was told he could not return to America because he violated immigration law when he crossed the border illegally in 1988 and 1999.
“This happened because I wanted to do the right thing. I don’t want to cross the border illegally. I want to go and do the right thing and I hope everybody understands me. I’m not a bad person,” explained Santos.
Santos has hired a new attorney who says there may be legal avenues that will allow him to return to the United States under current immigration law crossing the border illegally places legal road blocks to gaining legal residency and in some cases, even a work visa. Santos is appealing to federal lawmakers
“Please give me a second chance dear reps, senators. Please help us out to fix the law. Law is being too old,” added Santos.
A spokesperson for Congressman Matt Cartwright tells the I-Team that immigration cases are kept confidential.
The spokesperson says “I can confirm, however that we’ve been asked to address this issue by a constituent and communications are ongoing in the matter.”
A bill has been introduced in congress called the Dignity Act which calls for an overhaul of immigration law that could if passed help people like Santos.
The I-Team has confirmed that both Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman as well as New York Senator Chuck Schumer are looking into the Santos case.