By all accounts Didier Pineda is a good man. He owns his own home, he works hard to support his family. He is a loving father to his disabled stepson. He always pays his taxes on time and he's never been in trouble with the law.
But soon, Pineda could be sent to a country he hasn’t seen in a decade.
"And he loves us with all his heart too. And we're a family,” said his wife, Melisa Pineda, “We're a family. We're real people."
Real people with a real problem.
Didier Pineda came to the US in 2006 when he was 20-years-old. He left, then returned in 2008 and has been here ever since. In that time, he got married to an American citizen, became a master mechanic, opened his own business, and is raising his disabled step son.
His wife is also disabled; they rely on Didier to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
"He loves his family. He works six days a week. He comes home every evening. We've never been apart. We spend every night together,” said Mrs. Pineda. “We go to church together Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings."
All that changed last Tuesday.
For years, the Pinedas have spent thousands of dollars working to make Didier legal. They have a file cabinet full of immigration paperwork. They were told to come to the immigration office. They did, and Didier was taken into custody.
"I, I just broke down crying. I mean, I was so mad,” said Didier’s stepson Drew Newman.
A 1996 law states that if an illegal immigrant leaves the US, that person has to stay out for 10 years. If they come back before that 10 years, they are banned for life.
Immigration attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez said up till now, immigration officials have had leeway, “To where they could consider cases on a case by case basis and consider the humanitarian circumstances in each case."
Now there is a zero-tolerance policy, and zero chance Pineda will return to his family.
"I'm hurt. I'm hurt by my country,” said Mrs. Pineda. "This is not necessary. This is not necessary."