HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There are new developments in an ongoing I-Team investigation into an immigration controversy involving an area businessman.
52-year-old Ricardo Santos from the Hazleton Area says he is caught up in an immigration nightmare.
Santos and his attorney tell 28/22 News that this situation and their dilemma highlight the need for immigration reform. Santos insists he was trying to do the right thing and now he is stranded in Mexico.
“I really need to go back to my community my business my wife my girls my daughter..my kids are in elementary school,” says Santos.
Santos says he is not giving up the fight to return to his home in the Hazleton Area. He owns several Mexican food trucks and a Mexican restaurant. He traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico in late June trying to obtain legal U.S. residency.
He admits he entered the U.S. illegally in 1988 and 1999, but embassy officials refused to let him re-enter the U.S. claiming he violated U.S. immigration, but Santos’ attorney argues the embassy got it wrong.
“The bottom line is the agencies make decisions like any court like any agency. They make incorrect decisions right. That’s why we have the entire appeal system in place because sometimes the decisions aren’t correct,” explained Attorney Aleksandra Gontaryuk.
Attorney Gontaryuk will file an appeal arguing that the U.S. Embassy misinterpreted immigration law and that Santos despite entering the country illegally can and should obtain legal residency.
She also insists the Santos case highlights the need for immigration reform.
“We need reform and the only way we can do that is to contact our representatives and let tem know that we want reform. We want to have hardworking people like Mr. Santos who deserve to be here be able to get that chance in a more swift and efficient manner,” continued Attorney Gontaryuk.
The community is rallying around Santos who is known to give back to the community. He’s handed out free lunches at area schools.
“Are you optimistic you’ll be home soon?” asked Mehalshick.
“I’m very positive. I’m very hopeful. I always believe that everything is possible as long as you keep your mind set on faith. Faith is more important,” answered Santos.
Santos’ lawyer says she may also file an action in federal court seeking to reverse the decision by the U.S. Embassy.
The I-Team has also confirmed that Senator Bob Casey and Congressman Matt Cartwright are aware of the situation and have made inquiries about it.