'You won’t take my son’ | Fort Wayne mom fights to keep disabled adopted son from being deported


Nov 1, 2015

‘You won’t take my son’ | Fort Wayne mom fights to keep disabled adopted son from being deported​

The woman is calling for change in immigration laws​

By Taylor Williams and Jazlynn Bebout

Published: Dec. 19, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A Fort Wayne family is praying for a Christmas miracle after receiving a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stating their legally adopted nonverbal, blind, autistic son with Cerebral Palsy would be deported to Haiti when he turned 18.

“You are not going to take my child,” Rebekah Hubley said. “This is the most ludacris thing I have ever heard in my entire life.”

On December 7, Rebekah Hubley said she received a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stating that her son Jonas Wendel Brice Hubley’s Petition for Alien Relative was denied and that Jonas would be deported back to Haiti in January 2024.

“He is a Hubley,” Rebekah Hubley said. “We have adopted him. He has an Indiana birth certificate and parts of the government have recognized everything but then immigration won’t.”

Rebekah says she always knew she wanted to adopt. That desire started at a young age when her family volunteered in Haiti with a church-founded medical compound.

So when she and her husband started the adoption process, she said they wanted to adopt from Haiti.

The Hubleys already have three biological children, their oldest is blind. Rebekah says that when they saw Jonas’ profile through the adoption agency and read that he was visually impaired, she said it was fate.

“Oh my gosh, that’s my son,” Rebekah said. “So we started the process.”

In 2007, Rebekah said Haiti did not have access to diagnostic testing for visual impairment. She said they then collected Jonas’ Haitian documents and started to set up medical appointments in Fort Wayne so a medical visa could be approved.

The visa was later approved, and in May of 2008, Rebekah flew down with a friend and brought Jonas home to Indiana.

Rebekah says while they were getting Jonas medical care, they continued work with the adoption agency, the Port-au-Prince orphanage, and the country of Haiti to continue the adoption process while he was in the U.S.

“Everything was great,” Rebekah said. “He was getting the treatment he needed.”

In October 2009, the Hubleys went back to Haiti to sign adoption paperwork with a judge and social services. Rebekah says they were told she would have to come back with Jonas in February or March of 2010 to finish the last of the paperwork for the Haitian government. Then, they’d be allowed to come back to the United States, show the adoption paperwork to Immigration, and a month later, Jonas would have his certificate of citizenship.

However, in January, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, killing hundreds of thousands of people and leaving much of Port-au-Prince in rubble. That includes Jonas’ adoption paperwork, which was considered lost and could not be completed in Haiti.

“This was all new waters that everyone is charting,” Rebekah said. “There were 80 kids from Jonas’ orphanage who came [to the U.S.] on humanitarian parole so they had a different avenue to get their citizenship. Jonas and the kids that were here on medical visas didn’t get that option because he wasn’t in any danger.”

Rebekah said that they continued to renew Jonas’ medical visa (I-94) every six months. Then on November 19, 2010, the Hubleys were able to adopt Jonas at the Allen County Courthouse.

“You think, ‘Oh my gosh this is great, everything is amazing,’” Rebekah said. “Then you think, what do we do? But a lot of the adoption agencies weren’t sure. No one really knew.”

Jonas Hubley's adoption day, November 2010.

Jonas Hubley's adoption day, November 2010.(Photo of Jonas Hubley, taken by his mother, Rebekah Hubley)

What came next was waiting. Before the family could start filing paperwork with the U.S., they had to prove Jonas had been in the United States for two or more years. They applied for an adoption tax ID number, and Rebekah said everything was great.

Then in 2013, Jonas had a “devastating” 25-minute grand mal seizure. Rebekah said that year was focused on Jonas’ growing medical needs.

“He already had special needs, but this just halted his progress,” Rebekah said. “He said words before, and now all those words are gone. I have not heard him say mama since 2013.”

Rebekah says they continued to file paperwork with the government, trying to get medical funding for Jonas. She said at one point, she worked with Congressman Marlin Stutzman’s office to try and get past the many roadblocks that stopped Jonas from becoming a U.S. citizen and getting a social security number.

Finally, in 2019, Rebekah said they started to make progress and the family went to a Goshen attorney who helped them file two forms.

Rebekah said a year later, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said they forgot to check a box on one of the forms. A Fort Wayne immigration attorney then helped the family resubmit the forms. Another year later, the government sends Rebekah a letter stating Jonas needs to be fingerprinted.

Then they wait—for two more years. Rebekah says during that time, they worked with Congressman Jim Banks’ office to try and get information on the process of their paperwork. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Banks and Rebekah that they had the paperwork and it would be processed in the order it was received.

“I started to worry,” Rebekah said. “He will be 18 years old in January 2024. He will be a severely disabled special needs adult with no access to state or federal funding.”

Then in June 2023, Rebekah says they received a request for more documents from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proving that Jonas had been in the U.S. at least two years before the paperwork was filed.

Rebekah said they were able to send a majority of the documents. They had issues with Jonas’ Haitian birth certificate because it was lost in the earthquake, and because Jonas doesn’t have a social security number, the Hubleys have never been able to claim Jonas on their taxes. Rebekah said she sent off the paperwork in September 2023.

“He’s been with us for 15 years, he’s been adopted for 13 years, it’s finally going to be over,” Rebekah Hubley said. “This nightmare is going to be over. Then December 7th, I got the envelope in the mail.”

Inside the envelope was a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stating that Jonas’ form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, was denied because they had “not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you have jointly resided with the beneficiary for two years before filing this Form I-130.”

In the letter the  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says that the decision could not...

In the letter the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says that the decision could not be appealed.(WPTA Staff)

In the denial letter, it gave a list of everything that was provided by the Hubleys. What was not on the list was Jonas’ school records, dated back to 2009. Rebekah said this shows the agency reading the application didn’t flip the page to see all of Jonas’ school history.

“I was in disbelief,” Rebekah said. “You have barked up the wrong person’s tree. Do not mess with my kids because the gloves are off. Let’s go, because this is unjust. This is a lie because I didn’t just provide 23-24, I provided all demographics. I have pictures.”

The letter went on to say that if Jonas does not voluntarily leave the United States before January 2, 2024, “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may issue you a Notice to Appear and commence removal proceedings against you with the immigration court. This may result in you being removed from the United States and found ineligible for a future visa or other U.S. immigration benefits.”

It goes on to say that “you can’t appeal.”

“This is not fair,” Rebekah said. “This should be illegal. Like, you are telling me my son is illegal, how is this legal to deport a completely dependent child to a country that you have deemed unsafe?”

That’s when Rebekah took to Facebook to write a letter to President Joe Biden in the voice of Jonas, stating everything they had done over the past 15 years. At the bottom of the post, she tagged local, state, and federal officials. Since that post on December 8, it has been shared more than a thousand times.

One of those shares got the attention of the Whicker family in Kendallville. They reached out to Rebekah, who says they are paying for an immigration attorney, Kelly Dempsey. A family friend has also started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.

Rebekah says right now, they are racing to get the government to stop and let Jonas stay in the U.S. She does not know what the next two weeks look like, but she says she’s not backing down.

“It might not matter to immigration but his life matters,” Rebekah said. “He is a human being and his life matters. I will prove to you his life matters. And not if, but when he becomes a citizen of the United States, we will go before Congress and lobby for other kids who I am sure are just like Jonas who are stuck in this situation.”

According to the United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, Haiti has been under a ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory since July 2023. 21Alive reached out to learn more about the advisory but has not heard back.

21Alive has reached out several times to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and was told, “spokespersons do not have access to applicants’ case-specific information.”

Several Indiana lawmakers have started to help Jonas. Rep. Jim Banks told 21Alive; “Mrs. Hubley reached out to my office, and since then we’ve been working to help the family however we can.”

Senator Todd Young is also looking into the Hubley’s case saying, ““Helping Hoosiers navigate federal red tape has always been a top priority for me and our team. “We take every call that comes in seriously, and our team is committed to helping Hoosiers resolve issues involving federal agencies.”

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May 24, 2022
I wonder what the problem could be. So much time wasted when I simple phone call and fax would deliver the simplest of answers and that's if instant messaging wasn't valid. I wonder what the reason for so much stalling and inattention to such a simple matter