ULLIN, IL – Fox 2 was granted access to meet in person with a St. Louis County woman who is jailed and facing deportation after being in the U.S. illegally for some 20 years.
During that time, she married, had a child, worked multiple jobs paying taxes with a clean criminal record.
48-year-old Ilsa Guzman-Fajardo is spending her days behind bars at the Pulaski County Detention Center in Ullin, Illinois, her future in this country uncertain at best.
Fox 2`s Chris Regnier was able to meet with Ilsa and her husband Steve Miller when he came to visit her.
“It bothers me. I think she should be at home instead of up in this place,” said Steve outside of the Pulaski County Detention Center.
Steve never thought he would be coming to a jail to visit his wife.
But that is exactly what he is doing after Ilsa`s arrest one week ago by authorities with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ‘ICE’.
Steve was out of town working when it happened.
Today was his first on-camera interview since he returned home.
“I`m just devastated. I`m just hurt. I usually see my wife every day and now it`s like when I go home I`m coming into an empty apartment and it`s just like I don`t have my wife anymore,” explained Steve.
Before Steve went to see Ilsa Tuesday at the Pulaski County Detention Center, we met with her inside the jail.
We were not allowed to bring any recording devices into the jail, just a pen and a pad.
Ilsa told us that early Tuesday morning she was taken back to the ‘ICE’ office in downtown St. Louis in handcuffs and shackles.
She says she was in a cell there for about an hour and nothing happened. Then she was brought back to Pulaski County.
Steve says his wife regularly checked in with immigration officials and what`s happening to her is unfair.
“She is a wonderful wife, a wonderful mother, she don`t deserve to be treated like this. And what I`m not understanding is that for someone who check in every month, and stay at home when they do home visits – I mean she did everything that they wanted her to do,” said Steve.
Ilsa wrote two messages in Spanish while we were with her then translated them into English.
One of the messages read, “I am not a criminal woman. I need one opportunity to stay legal in the United States. I have a family…my husband. My son was born in the United States. There is a home outside waiting for me. There are many people outside who know me and my clean record in this country.”
The other one read in part, “Thank you for the community…for supporting me…I hope to leave quickly and tell everyone on the outside thank you. God bless everybody.”
Ilsa`s attorney Evita Tolu says faulty paperwork given to Ilsa when she first crossed into the United States in 1999 led to a deportation order being filed against her.
Tolu is now fighting to try and get that order declared invalid.
She is also reaching out to political leaders for help as well.
Steve is praying that the love of his life will be able to stay in the U.S.
“I gotta just put it in God`s hands and just let him work it out,” said Steve.
Tolu says it could take a month for a ruling to come down on the motion she filed last week to try and stop the deportation.
If she loses there, Tolu tells us she will file more appeals with the case potentially winding up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some have asked why Guzman didn`t do more to try and become a legal citizen in the time she has been in the U.S.
Tolu says once the deportation order was issued there wasn`t much else Guzman could do.
Steve tells us he has also been trying to get her legalized since they were married in 2017.