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Separated Couple Waging Immigration Battle

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Bruce Eckel & Paola Arango (Source: CBS4)

Bruce Eckel & Paola Arango (Source: CBS4)

maggieheadshot Maggie Newland
Maggie Newland is a reporter at CBS4. She arrived at the station ...
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Politics

MIAMI (CBS4) – A couple separated by an immigration battle is now fighting to be reunited. Paola Arango had been in the US since she was 10 years old but less than two weeks after getting married, she was deported.

Arango said her family came to the U.S. from Colombia to escape guerrilla violence. For a decade she lived in South Florida, went to college and fell in love with Bruce Eckel of Palmetto Bay. Weeks before their wedding day in 2009, Arango learned her family’s request for asylum was denied and they left the U.S.

“It was a very bittersweet moment. I was happy getting married with the love of my life but just knowing eventually I would have to leave, it was very heartbreaking,” said Arango, speaking through FaceTime on her husband’s iPad.

“She left November 23rd. It was like a week and a half after we got married and two days before my birthday so it was worse,” Eckel added.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged the couple to contact her office for help.

“She was ordered deported, she did the right thing she left and now she can’t get back in. If she had defied that order she would be here legally,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Arango could have been eligible for temporary legal status since she was brought to the U.S. as a young child. Instead, because she was deported she’s not allowed back for ten years

“It’s very frustrating to know that had I not obeyed the rules or the laws I would be okay now. I would be with my husband and we’d not have these past years being separated,” said Arango.

“I kind of believe in the phrase no good deed goes unpunished,” said Eckel.

Right now the couple is trying to get a waiver for Arango so she can come back to Miami, but the couple says the process has been difficult.

“I always try to be optimistic. I try to have faith in whatever system we have, but it seems as time goes on it’s getting more and more frustrating for us,” Eckel said.

Proposed legislation in Congress could help Arango.

“Now if we’re able to pass the immigration law she will then be allowed back in because she’s got a U.S. citizen spouse,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

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