Valley restaurant owners waiting for green cards face deportationPosted: Updated:
President Barack Obama's controversial executive action on immigration helps millions of people who are in the country illegally. But a local family legally working and living here for more than a decade is speaking out about their fight to stay in the country and how the system doesn't always help immigrants who have followed the law.
Scottsdale restaurant owner Caroline Catois, her husband and their four kids legally immigrated to the Valley from France nine years ago. But now their American dream is an immigration nightmare.
"I am sad, disappointed," Caroline Catois said. "We feel like we are punished to be legal and to try to stay legally."
On an investment visa, the Catoises have successfully run Cafe Paris in Scottsdale for seven years. Their crepes are legendary.
"We bring something. We don't take American jobs, you know, because it is our business. We can create them," Caroline Catois said.
They were approved for green cards, but Caroline Catois says with a backlog at the state department, it could be another eight years before the state gets to them.
Not covered by Obama's executive order for illegal immigrants, the family will be kicked out of the country in March.
Their eldest daughter, Saskia Catois, fought back tears when she talked about how hard her parents have worked to build their business and give the whole family a better life.
"It’s kind of heart-breaking to see it just getting thrown away," she said.
The family says because of their immigration in limbo, if they leave the country now, they can't come back. Caroline Catois' mother in Paris has cancer and is going through chemotherapy.
"It's terrible because she needs me and I cannot go there," Caroline Catois said. "It's a terrible feeling because you are not free. I am not a criminal. Why am I punished like that?"
But now their customers are coming to their aid. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to allow the family to stay in the country as they wait for their green cards.
"It makes you not want to lose hope," Saskia Catois said.