Perry man spared deportation to Cuba

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By: Erin Lisch | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 30, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Rudy Blanco grins ear to ear as he gets a second chance.

Less than a day ago, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Rudy Blanco from the Krome Detention Center in Miami.

Back in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Blanco said, "Just ten hours away, I was on a plane going back to Cuba. I was deported. I was done."

Monday night, a Monroe County judge vacated Blanco’s 1997 drug charge conviction (although Blanco pled no contest, under the Immigration and Nationality act it was considered a conviction).

Shelly Blanco, headed to Miami on Monday night to pick up her husband, said, "I ran and jumped into his arms like a teenager and just held him. I'm just so happy for us to be here, and I'm not having to do that in Cuba."

Stricter immigration polices led to Blanco’s detainment back in May after his check in with ICE.

Criminal defense attorney Alex Morris and Gisela Rodriguez represent Blanco. Rodriguez said it was a tough case.

She added, "I was hopeful, but you never know so that moment last night I just consider it to be a real miracle."

For decades, Blanco has tried to gain U.S. citizenship. Now, that work continues.

"I have to prove to them that I'm that guy that they really need here," said Blanco.

With his conviction gone, his attorney believes that should help in the immigration process.

"Every day is a step closer to get to where we're at, and before you know it we're going to be there. It's going to be amazing."

A journey which nearly came to an end now still has a chance at a happy ending.

By: Julie Montanaro, Erin Lisch | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 30, 2017

MIAMI, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Perry man just days away from deportation is now back home.

Rudy Blanco was released Tuesday night from Krome Detention Center in Miami.

Attorneys tell us Blanco was scheduled to be put on a plane and flown back to Cuba Thursday, but ICE released him Tuesday after a judge set aside a 20 year old drug conviction.

Blanco is now grateful to be home with his family in Perry and still in the country he's called home since he was a child.

"Special is not the word, it's incredible," Rudy Blanco said. "Just ten hours away I was on a plane going back to Cuba. I was deported. I was done."

"I was given another chance, another chance I'm going to be real proud of," Blanco said.

Blanco was abruptly detained earlier this year as part of an immigration crack down.

He says he'll now try to re-apply for U-S citizenship.

We'll hear more from Blanco and his wife on Eyewitness News at 11.

By: Julie Montanaro
August 30, 2017

One of Rudy Blanco's attorneys confirms that he was released from the Krome Detention Center Tuesday night and has returned home to Perry.

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 29, 2017

KEY WEST, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Taylor County man, just days from being put on a plane and deported to Cuba, will soon be headed home instead.

Rudy Blanco got word Tuesday afternoon that a Monroe County judge had vacated his conviction and sentence on a 1990’s drug charge. That conviction and sentence was the basis for deportation proceedings against him.

The decision clears the way for ICE to release Blanco from the Krome Detention Center in Miami as early as Tuesday night.

According to Blanco’s attorney, Alex Morris, Blanco’s family is in Miami awaiting his release.

Morris says the judge’s order setting aside the convictions does not mean ICE cannot still try to deport Blanco, but it’s not as likely.

Morris had argued – and prosecutors didn’t disagree - that Blanco’s attorneys back then didn’t adequately warn him of the deportation risk he'd face by entering a plea to those felony drug charges.

By: Erika Fernandez
June 1, 2017

PERRY, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Taylor County man is fighting something he never thought he'd face: deportation. Rudy Blanco is a successful businessman and Cuban native, but now he's sitting in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Wakulla waiting for his next move.

A wall in the Blanco's home is covered in smiling pictures. But right now, one major piece of the puzzle is missing.

"This is the hardest thing we have ever gone through…not knowing where our life is going to go," said Shelly Blanco, Rudy’s wife.

Rudy Blanco fled from Cuba to America in 1980. In the late nineties, a drug conviction put him on probation.

"I have to save him because that's the only thing I can do. I can't sit still," Rudy’s wife said.

Later, Blanco started the process to become a U.S. citizen. In 2004, he was placed on ICE supervision with no problems, until three weeks ago.

"On May 9, when it was time for him to report again like we've done for 13 years, they detained him," Shelly said.

Now, this family is living in fear as the head of their house faces deportation.

"How can you send someone back to a country that they left when they were seven and it wasn't their choice? This is the only place he knows," Shelly said.

Blanco's children have come together to rally behind their father.

"He taught me well. He taught me to work and do whatever you need to do to provide for the family," said Rudy’s youngest son, Noah.

Noah is now running Rudy’s contracting business while hoping his father will come home soon.

"Pulling up to the yard and seeing his truck and everything but walking inside and not hearing, 'Hey buddy,’ or ‘How's your day?'. We're a big family, we've always been tight so that's the hardest thing for me," Noah said.

"Half of me is gone and that's how our family is. You feel like you're missing a limb," Shelly said.

The Blanco family was never given a reason why Rudy was detained in the first place, and they are still left without answers.

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