Katie, Daniel, and David Ricardo are three United States citizen children who live and attend school in the Morgantown, West Virginia, area. Katie, age 9, and Daniel, age 6, both suffer from severe hearing impairments requiring them to wear specialized hearing devices that allow them to communicate with their friends and loved ones. The children’s hearing impairments require that they receive individualized medical and educational treatments on a regular basis. Medically, the children must visit their audiologist at least twice a year. Additionally, at least three times a year the children must have their digital hearing aids remolded so that the hearing aids continue to fit and work properly. Educationally, the children are usually able to participate in normal classroom activities. This is because their hearing aids are equipped with specialized FM receivers that allow their teachers to speak into microphones which transmit the message to the children’s hearing aids. Additionally, numerous times a week the children meet with both an educational audiologist and a speech pathologist to continue to improve their communication skills. Without these kinds of specialized treatments and services, it would be difficult for Katie and Daniel to receive an education that is similar to that of hearing-enabled children.
According to the Children's Hearing Institute, “hearing loss can affect a child’s learning, speech, attention, and emotional development.” It also can have a drastic effect on a child’s reading, writing, and academic performance. These deficits generally begin early in a child’s education. In fact, research from the Children's Hearing Institute has indicated that “most children with hearing loss begin to show significant learning difficulties by the third grade due to the increasing complexity of language, social interaction, and verbal communications.” If a hard-of-hearing child falls behind in any of these areas, the child’s hearing condition makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the child to “catch up” both intellectually and socially. These deficits generally lead to increased difficulties not only throughout the childhood years, but also throughout adulthood. Luckily for Katie and Daniel, they are both receiving the necessary educations and treatments to help ensure that this tragic fate does not befall them and that they are able to lead fairly normal, productive lives.
However, Katie’s and Daniel’s futures are threatened. The Ricardo children’s father, Benjamin, is scheduled to be deported to Mexico on May 14. For the last few years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted Mr. Ricardo one year stays of removal/deferred actions. These stays of removal have allowed Mr. Ricardo to legally remain and work in the United States while his children continue to get the necessary medical treatments that they need. It is worth noting that Mr. Ricardo came to the United States as an adolescent, speaks fluent English, and has lived here for the last seventeen years. If not for a formality in the law requiring ten years of continuous physical presence, Mr. Ricardo would have been eligible for a form of relief called cancellation of removal. But because Mr. Ricardo left the country for six months to get married in 2003, he does not meet the ten years of continuous physical presence requirement. While here, Mr. Ricardo has worked hard to raise his family, has stayed out of trouble, and has been an active member in the community.
If Mr. Ricardo’s stay of removal and/or deferred action request is not granted again this year, Mr. Ricardo will be forced to leave the United States, and Katie and Daniel will have to go with him. In Mr. Ricardo’s rural village, located several hours from quality healthcare facilities, Katie and Daniel would not have access to the same or even similar treatment and services that they now receive in Morgantown’s healthcare and educational systems. In Mexico, once the children outgrow their hearing molds, they will no longer be able to hear and communicate properly. The likely result would be extremely detrimental to the children’s future with Katie and Daniel being left behind both academically and socially.
Therefore, in light of these circumstances and the effect that Mr. Ricardo’s removal to Mexico would have on two United States citizen children, we, the signers of this petition, respectfully request that ICE grant Mr. Ricardo’s stay of removal and/or deferred action and allow him to continue to live and work in the Morgantown area so Katie and Daniel can continue to receive the medical and audiological services that they so desperately require.