Yale Law Students Petition Middletown Woman's Deportation to Italy

A woman deported to Italy in 2011 wants to return to Connecticut, and students at Yale Law School hope they can help.

Former Middletown resident Paolina Milardo spent five months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing money she used for gambling.

She has three children and six grandchildren here in Connecticut, along with a husband, who fought in Vietnam. Milardo's husband said he tried to make his wife a U.S. citizen during the war, but politicians wouldn't help him.

Now, he said, they still won't help him.

"I was there when they called me to go," Tony Milardo told reporters at Yale. "When I called them, they just wished me luck. That bothers me. It bothers me a lot."

So he and his son Salvatore Milardo have turned to the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services clinic at Yale Law School. Students think they can secure an immigration hearing for Paolina Milardo if a state judge will throw out her guilty plea.

In a petition filed Thursday, students argue that at the time of Paolina Milardo's plea, her attorney wasn't telling her exactly what she needed to know.

"For instance," said law student Avinash Samarth, "advising a person of the clear immigration consequences of her guilty plea, which is the case here."

The Milardos are far from the only family in Connecticut split up by a criminal offense and a deportation they didn't expect.

Just last week, immigration advocates held a rally in Hartford for a Glastonbury famIly.

Jorge Salcedo, a U.S. Army veteran, didn't realize he faced deportation to his native Peru after pleading guilty and going to jail for spitting on a police officer and drunk driving.

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