A Cheshire family is hoping for a miracle or Denada Rondos will soon be deported back to Albania, a country she hasn't been to in 15 years.
"I was shocked. I still don't believe it. I don't believe this is happening to me," said Denada.
At the age of 16, Denada escaped Albania, fearing for her life, she said.
Her attorney, Erin O'Neil-Baker, said she came to the United States in 2002 due to severe discrimination and harassment in Albania that was directed at her family for their political opinions.
Denada said she met her husband, Viron, in New York and they moved to Connecticut. They started several businesses with their latest being Viron Rondos Osteria, a restaurant that employs more than 50 people. And they're currently looking to expand.
"He bought a business that had gone dark. The restaurant was closed. There was nothing going on up here in terms of restaurant business, and he turned this place around," said Cheshire Mayor and Town Council Chairman Robert Oris. "If his wife isn't here to support him, I'm sure that this business is going to be put into jeopardy."
Denada's attorney said the mother of three has a removal order against her that was issued by the Immigration Court in New York in 2007. The attorney said Denada had received stays of removal but that her last stay was denied in September.
Denada was given an ankle monitor to keep an eye on her movements.
"We don't have criminal records," said Viron. "I am an American citizen. I pay my taxes. I have no criminal record. My wife doesn't. I don't know why this is happening."
Viron and Denada's three children were all born in the U.S. Niko is 7-years-old. Katerina is 5-years-old. Alxandra is 1 year old. If their mother is deported, the family said they're unsure if the children will go with her or stay behind.
"As a father, I feel I cannot do anything for my kids and my family right now," said Viron.
"I cannot imagine myself being split from my children and husband," said Denada.
Denada's attorney said they've filed a motion to reopen with the Board of Immigration Appeals in Virginia.
O'Neil-Baker said they want to reopen Denada's old removal order from 2007 and that they've also filed an emergency stay of removal with the board and DHS and ICE.
She said they've filed a waiver to excuse her removal order so that she can get permanent residency based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen.
"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," a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty will meet with Rondos Friday afternoon.
She said she wrote a letter to immigration authorities in support of Mrs. Rondos, urging them to grant “every consideration possible to remain in the United States and continue her pathway to citizenship.”