By AMANDA HOSKINS, WHP
YORK COUNTY, Pa. (CIRCA via WHP) — These two teens are in love and looking to stay together, but one of them is on the cusp of being deported.
On Tuesday afternoon, 17-year-old Chloe Massaro was eager to scribble a major date into her family calendar: her wedding day.
“That makes me happy,” Massaro said looking at the date marked. “It really brings everything together now.”
Nearly three months after her boyfriend at the time, 18-year-old Jose Ignacio, was taken away by ICE on their way to school, she's fighting to keep him in her life.
“I mean it's crazy, but life runs a certain way, and if it's meant to be, it's meant to be,” Massaro explained.
She said the two were leaving her home around their usual time one September morning when two unmarked cars pulled them over.
“Being pulled over was scary for me, and then having them fling open the car door and rip him out of my car, I just didn't know how to react. I just sat there and I cried,” Massaro said.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Ignacio said. “They were dressed regularly. They asked if I was Jose and I was like yeah, I’m Jose.”
While she said some of the officers tried to give the situation a positive spin, that everything would work out, others were not so kind.
“I said I have to call my mom, that's it, and he was like, 'Go ahead call your mommy and cry to her, it's not your problem,'” Massaro explained.
But this time together is what she'll be fighting for until she can get Ignacio back. He's currently being held at the York County Prison as a detainee, along with dozens of other undocumented immigrants in the state.
“I’m like confused with the whole thing because I had never signed up coming in illegally,” Ignacio explained.
Ignacio's parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico at just 3 months old.
“He never knew until he was older where he was from. And that's the really sad part,” Massaro said with a frown. “He's being penalized for something he didn't do.”
To the Massaros, family is everything. It's written all over their living room, and they say Ignacio is part of it now.
“In my eyes he just needed someone to actually be there and love him and see him for who he is because all of his life he's just been judged,” she said.
Massaro said Ignacio comes from a troubled past, a tough home life and mistakes as a young teen landed him in a juvenile center, but since the start of their relationship she says he's a changed man.
“He was so excited, he wanted to go to school, he wanted to finish, he wanted to graduate,” she smiled. She said she wants to make that happen.
After deciding they wanted to spend the rest of their life together, they're working to legally keep him in the country.
Even behind bars, Jose says “happy, excited, joyful,” are the emotions he’s feeling now that he and Chloe have a date to be wed.
“Marriages are always risky, but I would say this is one that deserves being given a chance,” Craig Shagin, their attorney, explained.
Shagin said it's a long process, but Ignacio should be able to change his status because he entered the country lawfully.
“So he was brought across the border when he was 3 months old by an adult presenting documents, so he was inspected and he was admitted following inspection,” Shagin said.
On Tuesday the couple filed for a marriage license and later settled on a date.
“It was great today. It was a really good feeling, but it was also sad for me, just seeing him in that state,” Massaro said.
After the wedding, which must be held at the jail, the two will file a petition and then go before a judge to change his status.
Through it all Massaro said she's looking to her faith and the words that she tries to live by.
“I have set the Lord always beside me. He is at my right hand side. I will not be shaken,” she read from her framed quote next to the photograph with Ignacio.
Ignacio will appear before a judge for a status hearing on Wednesday.
Ignacio and Massaro are now less than a week away from their wedding, a step they hope will help keep them both in the U.S.
“She’s been there through almost everything that I’ve had to deal with. I’ve been with her when she’s been going through difficult stuff and she’s seen how difficult things have been for me. That sort of brings us closer,” Ignacio said.
He said he’s OK being held at the jail for now. His biggest fear is going to a country he doesn’t know.
“I don’t know what the people are like. People that have been down there say since I was raised in America, they see me as someone who isn’t a Hispanic. They will treat me like I’m not Hispanic and try to kill me or something,” Ignacio said.
Ignacio has two more hearings scheduled for January and April where they will try and get a change of status. Until then, he’ll continue to stay at the prison and wait.