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'He's Not A Criminal': Family, Advocates Plead With ICE In Deportation Case

Since ICE took her husband away, Madina Mamadjonova said life has been a nightmare.

She’s trying to support her family, Mamadjonova said Tuesday, but she can’t be both a “mother and father” to their three children. The youngest, a son named Ibrohim, is nearly 2 years old -- that’s about how long Bakhodir Madjitov has been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE agents came into the family's Windsor home and arrested Madjitov in December 2017 for being “unlawfully present in the United States,” according to an ICE spokesman. In short, Madjitov had overstayed his visa and an immigration judge ordered his removal in 2013.

Now Madjitov, 38, faces deportation as soon as next week, one of his lawyers said. ICE has already tried to deport him once. 

After a recent denial from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Madjitov’s legal team on Tuesday filed for a stay of removal with ICE.

“Bring my husband home immediately, please,” Mamadjonova pleaded outside the Hartford federal building that houses immigration offices. “He’s not a criminal. He’s a good, kind guy who cares for his family, who loves his family. The children are crying every night. I can’t take it anymore. Enough is enough.”

Among the supporters standing with Mamadjonova were advocates from the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and an interfaith coalition. They said that Madjitov -- a Muslim who has lived in the U.S. since 2006 and worked as a home health aide -- has never been charged with a crime.

But if he’s deported to his native Uzbekistan, they fear that the consequences will be severe. 

Madjitov’s lawyer, Diana Blank of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, said Madjitov could be tortured -- in part because he already sought asylum in the U.S. and could be seen by authorities in Uzbekistan as a “suspicious” person if he returns. Blank said Madjitov applied for asylum after arriving in the U.S. That application was denied. Then, as Madjitov tried other avenues to gain legal residency, he overstayed his visa. 

Madjitov’s wife and three children are all U.S. citizens, Blank said.

“We’re asking ICE to liberate him,” she said. “He is a person with no criminal history who has been a devoted family man, a member of the community. His family has suffered unthinkably in the last two years. We’re asking them to free him. But we’re asking them at the very least to issue a stay of removal so that he can see his 11th Circuit case through.”

A spokesman for ICE said Tuesday that Madjitov is being detained in Louisiana “pending his removal from the United States.” 

Vanessa de la Torre is executive editor of the New England News Collaborative, a regional hub of nine public media stations producing news and in-depth storytelling throughout New England. Previously, Vanessa was a reporter for Connecticut Public and the public radio collaborative Sharing America, covering issues of race, identity and culture. Before joining the public media world, Vanessa wrote for newspapers such as the Hartford Courant, where her investigative storytelling on Hartford education won regional and national awards. She also was part of the Courant team that was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. Vanessa grew up in El Centro, Calif., a desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border, and is a graduate of Princeton University. She received her master's degree from Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Journalism.

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