PHILADELPHIA – A doctor and his wife who were ordered deported because of a long-ago error on their immigration paperwork have been granted an indefinite reprieve, authorities and their lawyer said Thursday.
Deportation proceedings against Dr. Pedro Servano and his wife, Salvacion, began Nov. 26 after all their appeals were exhausted.
The couple, well-known in their community, had asked federal officials to temporarily stay deportation proceedings against them, said their lawyer, Gregg Cotler.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesman Michael Gilhooly confirmed that officials in Philadelphia granted the deferred action.
"We'll not enforce the removal orders while they pursue other options," Gilhooly said.
Pedro Servano, 54, is a family physician in Selinsgrove, an underserved area of central Pennsylvania about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia; his wife, 51, runs an Asian grocery store and bakery.
The Servanos were ordered deported to their native Philippines because of a change in their marital status during their visa-application process more than 20 years ago. They were single when they applied but married when the visas were granted; U.S. officials were never told of the change.
Supporters of the family say the Servanos have been model immigrants since their arrival in the mid-1980s, and their story has led to an outpouring of support from around the country.
Cotler said the request for deferred action, which was granted Wednesday, is a recognition by immigration officials that there is "something extraordinary" about the Servanos' case.
Pedro Servano said the deferred action is "giving us hope."
"That's a positive move," he said. "We are just very thankful."
Pennsylvania's federal lawmakers continue to work on the case with the family and government officials, Cotler said. Special congressional legislation is their best hope to remain in the country, he said.