Man who sought legal status is still stuck back in Mexico 2 years later


Amy Herrera’s life has been riddled with some dark days.

When her husband, an undocumented immigrant who had been living in Santa Fe for about 20 years, tried to correct past wrongs and go through the legal process to become a U.S. citizen, the nightmare began — a harrowing trail that sent Damian Herrera, 39, back to his native Mexico and apart from his wife.

His application for a visa was turned down under former President Donald Trump’s “public charge” rule — referring to an evaluation or assessment to determine whether an applicant is likely to rely on government support, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

The Herreras contended they wouldn’t need government benefits and that the assessment had been based on an unusual low-income year for Amy. Regardless, Damian — a popular local chef and caterer who also taught fitness classes — became entangled in a complex immigration system, thousands of miles away from his wife.

But that was more than two years ago. A different time. A different president. A different policy.

With the public charge rule no longer in effect, the Herreras and their new attorney hope Damian’s case receives renewed attention and a different outcome and the couple will someday be reunited.

“This man was my partner in everything, my best friend, the love of my life,” Amy, who is a U.S. citizen, said Tuesday.

Santa Fe immigration attorney Allegra Love, who became involved after Damian’s visa application was denied at the U.S. Consulate, has filed what she calls an “aggressive request” for Damian to be paroled back into the country to be with his wife and get his green card.

“I am submitting this request for urgent review for parole on humanitarian grounds due to the fact that Damian has been separated from his wife for years now due to the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies and absolutely deserves to be reunited with her,” Love wrote in the Sept. 23 request to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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