The husband of Michael’s Frozen Custard owner Michael Dix is the latest victim of the Trump Administration’s ongoing crackdown against immigrants.
Sergio De La O Hernandez has been running the day-to-day operations at the local chain’s Monroe Street location since the two were married in 2015. Hernandez had already been living in the United States for over 30 years, having arrived without documentation to seek work. He has lived in Wisconsin ever since, has no criminal record, and has a college-age daughter living in the country.
When Hernandez returned to Mexico in August for a visa interview, he was denied that and re-entry to the U.S. Dix had sponsored Hernandez so that he could obtain legal status. After the request was denied, the couple filed a waiver to excuse the years Hernandez spent in the U.S. without authorization and to show there would be undue hardship for Dix if Hernandez could not return. Their attorney, Jessica Slind, said that waiver was denied Aug. 14, and she plans to file an appeal within the 30-day time frame.
Meanwhile, Dix has said that he intends to stay with Hernandez in Mexico and that the Monroe Street location of the business, which has seen significant decline since Hernandez was forced to leave, will close Sept. 9. The custard and burger joint has been a fixture in the near west side neighborhood for 33 years
“My separation from Sergio has been extremely painful for both of us and has been disastrous for my business,” Dix said in a statement.
“His hardship waiver should have been approved,” Slin told the Wisconsin Examiner, “We were shocked. I’ve submitted cases far less compelling than this and got approvals. So for this case be denied, I was not prepared for that.
Slin also cites concerns for Dix’s physical and mental health, which have been delicate especially since he began having to travel back and forth from the U.S. to Mexico to see his husband. There are also concerns about their safety as they’re forced to remain in a country where the environment for LGBTQ people is especially dangerous.
Meanwhile, residents of the Monroe Street neighborhood are shocked by the decision to bar Hernandez from returning to his home and the impending closure of the business.
“They were good neighbors,” longtime neighbor Janine Frank told the Wisconsin Examiner. “I hope it makes people think about how immigration affects all of us.”