Federal immigration officials late Friday afternoon told The Enquirer that they will proceed with the deportation of a Springdale man who is the sole provider and trained medical caregiver of a 6-year-old paraplegic boy.
The Detroit office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement via email to The Enquirer, which profiled the boy, Ricky Solis, in Friday’s print edition and had requested an update on the case on Wednesday.
Yancarlos Mendez, 27, has lived with the boy’s mother, Sandra Mendoza, since 2014 and has become the only father Ricky has known. His birth father is no longer in Ricky’s life after he had beaten and emotionally abused Mendoza.
When told of ICE’s decision, Mendoza said, “I can’t believe this. Why is this happening?”
ICE said that Mendez “entered the United States lawfully under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) before violating the program terms by overstaying his visit for a period exceeding two years. VWP participants waive their rights to a hearing before an immigration judge and are subject to detention prior to their removal.
“ICE has carefully reviewed his case and determined he was ineligible for any agency relief, and as such will move forward with his repatriation to his home country.”
Mendez has dual citizenship in Spain and the Dominican Republic. He had worked as an auto mechanic while living in Springdale.
Ricky, 6, was paralyzed from the waist down and suffered dozens of other serious injuries in an auto crash in February on Dixie Highway in Fairfield.
Mendez and Mendoza underwent medical training, which included a 24-hour supervised period before Ricky would be discharged from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Mendez has not been with his family since a Butler County judge sentenced him to 30 days in the county jail. He had been stopped earlier in November for driving without a valid license, his second such offense. While imprisoned in Butler County, the sheriff’s office alerted federal immigration officials that it was holding Mendez. When his sentence was completed at Butler County, Mendez was placed into federal custody and transferred to the Morrow County Jail, north of Columbus. He remained there Friday.
Nazly Mamedova, the family’s immigration attorney, applied for a one-year suspension of deportation with ICE. She said the family would suffer severe hardship if Mendez were deported.
“This is so disheartening,” she said of ICE’s decision.
Mamedova also said she received an email back from an ICE caseworker in Columbus who said that the officer there has not received word that the application was denied. He said he would contact her Monday with an update.
Mamedova went with Mendoza and Ricky to a medical appointment Friday to Children’s. Ricky is suffering from ongoing internal bleeding and will require more surgery in February.
“He is not healing fast enough,” Mamedova said.
As a U.S. citizen, Ricky is a Medicaid patient. Mendoza had to quit her job in a pizza restaurant to care for Ricky around the clock. She said she is struggling financially without her fiancee and cannot pay her $565 rent this month.