By Denise Dick
Although reluctant, Chip’s fianc e said she’ll relocate to Romania if he is deported.
BOARDMAN — Members of jailed Romanian Virgil Ciprian “Chip” Gilea’s family will be able to hug, kiss and touch their son and brother during a visit Saturday that may be their last for many years.
“They have told him he’ll have a contact visit,” said Minerva Gilea, Chip’s mother. “He said whenever someone has had a contact visit, they’ve been deported the next day or day after.”
Chip, 30, is a graduate of Boardman High School and Youngstown State University. Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him Dec. 27, 2007, at his job at Energy Development Inc. at the Allied Waste carbon limestone landfill in Poland Township.
He’s been in jail ever since, currently near Toledo.
His parents, Virgil and Minerva, and sister Bianca, 27, make the roughly three-hour drive each week to visit him. Chip’s fiancee, Cindy Zaborsky of Austintown, accompanies the family when she isn’t working.
A pane of glass separates Chip from his loved ones, but on Saturday they’ll be face-to-face for the contact visit — their first since his arrest.
Cleveland Atty. Abraham Kay, who was recently retained by the Gilea family, has asked immigration officials to reopen Chip’s case, and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio sent a letter to ICE officials last week, asking that the case be given full consideration.
They haven’t received a response.
Minerva said the Romanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., also is supporting the family.
“Immigration is a creature of procedure,” Kay said. “That’s how this young man got into so much trouble.”
Minerva and Virgil came to the United States in 1990, settling in the township and learning English at Mahoning County’s vocational school. In 1994, Bianca, 12 at the time, and Chip, 15, joined their parents.
Virgil and Bianca are both U.S. citizens. Bianca qualified for citizenship because of her younger age.
The problem with Chip dates back to a Cleveland attorney, formerly retained by the family, who filed a request for asylum with the immigration court three days late.
That attorney was notified about a problem with Chip’s immigration status: He stayed in the U.S. beyond his authorized period of admission. That resulted in a notice in 2001 to appear before an immigration judge, Chip’s first indication there was a problem. Chip went to court in 2002 and was given until March 2003 to file the application requesting asylum.
The attorney missed that filing deadline and an immigration judge denied it.
Chip was granted a voluntary departure order, which would have allowed him to leave the country voluntarily within 30 days without deportation. His attorney at the time failed to inform him. So, Chip didn’t leave within 30 days.
The attorney even filed paperwork with the court attesting to the fact that Chip didn’t know about the order.
“He never had his chance in court,” Zaborsky said.
She met Chip at the former Choices nightclub in Liberty in May 2001. They talked for years about getting married, but Chip’s attorney at that time discouraged it, she said.
The couple got engaged several months ago.
If he is deported, Zaborsky plans to spend her two-week vacation next month in Romania. If he can’t secure a waiver allowing him to come back to the U.S., she’s prepared — although not anxious — to move to Romania.
“I told him, ‘I’ll live with you in a box,’” Zaborsky said.
If the previous attorney hadn’t made procedural errors, Chip would likely be a citizen or a permanent resident by now, said the family’s lawyer, Kay.
If immigration officials won’t reopen the case, Chip will be deported. He would be prohibited from returning for 10 years although Kay plans to pursue a waiver of that prohibition.
Immigration has the discretion to reopen cases, the attorney said. Congress gave immigration that discretion in the law.