Monroe college student faces deportation back to Poland
Vinti Singh, Staff Writer
Published 10:30 p.m., Friday, October 14, 2011
MONROE -- There was nothing "voluntary" about it, but 19-year-old Paulina Krynska felt as if she had no other choice. If she didn't sign the voluntary deportation agreement, she would have to go into hiding, constantly dreading the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement tracked her down.
She signed the document. But it was a decision she would come to regret -- just a few hours later.
Krynska's father, Dariusz, and mother, Ewa, first came to the U.S. on tourist visas on the advice of relatives in New York and moved into an apartment in Queens. Krynska's father then obtained a work visa and her mother a student visa. The family moved to Monroe in 2005.
Krynska came to the U.S. from Poland on a tourist visa when she was 11, but never returned there. She has a Social Security number that she got when she was issued a work permit for her first high school job. She used that to get a driver's license and pay taxes on the wages she earned working at local coffee shops. She was able to extend her stay in the U.S. when she was granted dependent status, but she has been here illegally since the extension expired in 2006, according to documents the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent her.
When DHS sent her a letter that said she was "removable," her family hired a lawyer who helped them navigate the immigration court system. In August, he told Krynska she had little choice but to sign the voluntary departure.
The car ride to Hartford on the day she went to sign the agreement was mostly silent, she said. Her lawyer asked her if she was sure of her decision. It was highly unlikely she would be allowed to return to the U.S. unless it was as a fiance to an American citizen, she was told.
"Mostly, I was just like sad," Krynska said. "I wanted to cry."
She signed the document on Aug. 18 at 8:30 a.m. She agreed to leave the country no later than Dec. 16. But what she didn't know was on that very same day, President Barack Obama announced he was establishing a new process to handle deportation cases. His administration would focus more effort on deporting criminal immigrants in the country illegally. The president said in May that immigration officials would focus on violent offenders and not families or "folks who are looking to scrape together an income."
Krynska graduated from Masuk High School and attends Naugatuck Community College as a liberal arts and science major. She plans to transfer to Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and get a degree in business or marketing. Krynska feels she qualifies as an immigrant in good standing.
Her lawyer, Crescenzo DeLuca, sent in paperwork to have her case reopened, but in September, Krynska was notified her appeal was denied. DeLuca could not be reached for comment. The Krynskas said he was very diligent about letting them know the consequences of Paulina signing the deportation agreement.
Krynska came to the U.S. to join her parents who had settled here in 1998. Her parents wanted to get established before bringing her over. But when Krynska was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and spent three weeks in a Warsaw hospital, her mother decided she should come to the U.S. as soon as possible.
"I was little, and obviously an 11-year-old isn't going to understand the immigration system," Krynska said. "I had no clue what was going on. I thought, I'm moving to this country, I'm going to be with my parents, I'm going to be happy."
Krynska and her parents have stayed in the country on various extended visas and has applied for a green card more than once, but her application was always rejected. Her family said they got bad advice from previous immigration lawyers.
It's not uncommon for immigrants to be swindled by lawyers who prey on their lack of knowledge about the complex immigration system, said Wayne Chapple, director of immigration services at the International Institute of Connecticut and a private immigration attorney.
Krynska has many concerns about returning to Poland. She is worried that if she is deported, it will be difficult for her to afford insulin and blood tests for her diabetes care. Also, Krynska said she can speak Polish, but cannot read or write in the language, so it would be difficult for her to attend school or find a job.
Krynska has only enrolled in two classes this semester -- English and U.S. history-- because she does not want to pay too much in tuition if she will have to leave.
Krynska's friend, Sarah Magilnick, has started an online petition to garner support for her case. She has collected letters from friends and acquaintances on Krynska's behalf. On Wednesday, she planned to mail copies of the letters to 20 state officials including U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
"I'm usually the type of person who sits back and lets people be pushed around, but it would be like losing a sister if she has to leave," Magilnick said. "I know she's so happy here and everything she has is here. It's like helping family."
Krynska said she got advice from the daughter of Tomasz Kocab, another Polish immigrant in Monroe who was on the verge of removal, to contact U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., because he was able to help her family.
"What we want to get out of it is to reopen my case and see if I do qualify under the new policy," Krynska said. "I do want to stay here and go to school. Maybe they can give me a student visa and give me a green card."
While Krynska is pinning her hopes on Obama's new immigration policy, Chapple says she shouldn't count on it to help her because it is not yet an official policy and could change.
Chapple said at best, all Krynska could hope for is an extension of her deportation case so she could go to court with her parents.
"You never know about new immigration laws, and let's face it, no one is agreeing on anything in Washington and immigration is not a high priority when you're looking at jobs, economy, and the national budget."
But there have been various cases around the country that have been excused under the new order.
ICE would not comment on Krynska's case.
Krynska's parents are scheduled to appear in court in May. Their lawyer told them they have a better chance of being allowed to stay, since they have been in the country more than 10 years and they have a second daughter, who was born in the U.S. five years ago.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monroe college student faces deportation back to Poland