20/08/2010 13:26:50
Serge Babo loses battle to stay in USA
Mineral County resident Serge Babo, 28, lost his battle to remain in the United States Wednesday and was deported to his country of citizenship, the African nation of Cameroon.
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Babo deported to Cameroon on Wednesday (ref: http:/.com/news/news.rcv?id=2138 )

He had been imprisoned in York County, Pa., since May, when four agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrived at his home and arrested him as he was washing dishes.

According to wife Brittney Babo, he called at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to notify her that he was told by ICE officials to get ready for the trip. He flew out of Washington Dulles International Airport to Germany, then on to Morocco, and was scheduled to land in Cameroon at about 9 p.m. EST Thursday.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Brittney Babo said. “I’m happy that he’s not in prison anymore. ... He gets to go home and see his mom, dad, a brother and three sisters that are at home waiting on him. It’s confusing because I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m hurt — just a lot of different emotions running through my mind.”

Babo’s family planned to be waiting for him at the airport in Cameroon, she said.

Babo, who had been living in the United States illegally for about a decade, attended college, met and married Mineral County native Brittney, and bought a home with her in the Ridgeley area in 2009. He worked as a treatment associate with children at Burlington United Methodist Family Services, and watched the couple’s two young sons while Brittney worked overnight shifts as a nurse.

He worked for several years to change his immigration status, which had been marked for deportation after he followed bad legal advice and ignored a voluntary departure that was granted when his application for asylum was denied.

After the Babos’ case became public, many people in the surrounding community and farther reached out to offer support.

“Words can’t express how much we appreciate all the support from the community and all the prayers,” Brittney said.

By phone, Babo also expressed his appreciation Monday.

“I’m so thankful I’ve had my whole community behind me,” he said. “At one point we were getting four and five letters every single day from random people. It made me feel good — made me feel like I’m not alone in this.”

Babo can apply to return to the U.S., but might not be permitted to do so for 10 years.

Brittney Babo said the family can file for a waiver of the 10-year period, but the process of pursuing the waiver can also take several years.

Even so, she said, it’s reason to hope.

“Round 1 is closed, and we’re turning the page to Round 2,” she said. “The slate’s going to be wiped clean and we can start all over again. We don’t have to go every day wondering if someone’s going to knock on our door to take him away. When he comes home, he comes home to stay.”

Contact Megan Miller at mmiller@times-news.com

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