Emilyn Nanez, a Filipino immigrant, faces deportation with her family after a stroke she suffered left her unable to work, jeopardizing her H1V visa.
Emilyn and Jojo Nanez, 34 and 38, left Daveo City in the Philippines over five years ago to start a family in Gonzalez, Texas. Emilyn came on a work visa as a lab technician. Jojo, a professor in the Philippines, was able to join her a year later as a dependent.
In March 2013, things took a turn for the worst when Emilyn had a stroke after she had their second daughter, Arwen Faye.
Emilyn came home from work one night complaining of high blood pressure. The next day she experienced excruciating pain and asked her husband for Tylenol.
“So I went to the kitchen to get it,” he told the Gonzalez Inquirer. “and when I got back she was slurring her speech. I called 911 and EMS got here minutes later.
The stroke was followed by a second, leaving Emilyn partially paralyzed.
“I haven’t been able to work since the stroke,” she said. “Now I am on short-term disability.”
As a dependent, Jojo isn’t legally permitted to work in the U.S.
“If they find out you’re working, they deport you back home,” he says. “Both our visas expire in July. It would be much easier on us if the hospital would continue to extend her H1V, but it can’t happen because she can’t work.”
A New York immigration lawyer told Jojo that they could not expedite a green card, but that the ICE can grant certain immigrants exceptions, according to the situation.
“Under his discretion, the [immigration] director could make an executive decision saying certain people could stay, based on their situation,” Jojo said.
Despite the stress over what’s to come, the couple agrees it was better that Emilyn fell ill here, rather than in their native country, notes the Gonzalez Inquirer.
“Had it happened in our country, she might not have survived because hospitals there demand down payment before treatment,” Jojo said. “But here, you get treated and receive the bills later.”
Emilyn’s condition requires her to receive weekly blood work, a costly procedure.
“In Philippine hospitals, most patients are put in a wheelchair or in a bed beside the registration and just wait to die,” said Jojo. “It’s sad, but that’s the way it is.”
“She didn’t do anything wrong. It just happens that she got sick.”
Sources: Gonzalez Inquirer