Denada Rondos moved to the United States from Albania in 2002. She came here on a student visa, fleeing a dangerous country where women do not have opportunities or respect.
“She came here because there was a life risk there. People they were getting killed left and right,” said Viron Rondos, her husband.
Viron, who is also from Albania but who was granted citizenship, employs more than 50 people at their Cheshire restaurant, and says if he were to return to Albania with his family, the ripple effects would be huge.
The two have three children, all born in Connecticut, and they say they’ve been living the American dream.
“It’s more than I ever wished for,” Denada said. “I came from nowhere, where I had nothing, and I have everything that I wished for and more.”
Denada has been fighting to stay in the U.S. since 2007. That’s when immigration first ordered her back to her native country. Every year since then, she’s been granted a stay of removal, but that changed on September 13 when immigration officials told her she had to be out in two months.
Attorney Erin O’Neil Baker is asking immigration to reconsider.
“There are new developments in Albania that show that it would be extremely dangerous for her to go back to Albania at this time, so we’re asking the Board of Immigration Appeals to give her a hearing on these new dangerous circumstances.”
The family says if Denada is deported, the kids will go with her.
“We’re going to a different country where I have no home. I have nowhere to live. They don’t speak the language. Most important they will be living with no father,” Denada said.
Facing the unimaginable, the Rondos family hopes Denada will be allowed to stay while her case is reviewed.
“There is no health care in Albania. My children are not safe there. People are getting killed because they speak Greek in my region. And it’s just horrible, the whole thing,” Viron said.
“I hope they can give me more time. I hope they can let me stay. This is my home. This is my country,” Denada said.
On Thursday evening, ICE issued the following statement in reaction to this story.
Denada Markaj, aka Denada Rondos, an unlawfully present citizen of Albania was ordered removed by an immigration judge in 2009, a decision that was subsequently upheld after an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
“In an exercise of discretion, ICE has allowed Mrs. Rondos to remain free from custody with periodic reporting requirements. The agency will continue to closely monitor her case to ensure her departure in compliance with her final order of removal.”