Judge orders Kent man back to Mexico

April 3, 2019

HARTFORD — Constantino Santiago’s bid to stay in the United States was rejected by a federal immigration judge Wednesday, leaving his wife in tears and his three handicapped sons wondering whether they’ll stay here or move to Mexico, a country they’ve never known.

“I can’t believe daddy’s gone,” said Jayden Santiago, 7, who sat in a first-row pew in a tiny courtroom packed with supporters from Kent, where the family has lived for more than 20 years.

Their father, known as Tino, a popular handyman and a line cook at a local restaurant, was led away in handcuffs and chains after the three-hour deportation appeal and returned and hour north in a Greenfield, Mass. facility operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Federal Immigration Court Judge Michael W. Straus noted the heavy community support for Santiago during the appeal, led by Hartford attorney Mary Foden. But in the end, Straus sided with Assistant Chief Counsel Amit Patel in ordering Santiago back to Oaxaca in southeaster Mexico.

“This case is very troubling,” Straus said, noting that while Santiago claims he stopped drinking after a 2016 DUI arrest in New York State, the cook, through a court translator, admitted that he hadn’t attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in over a year.