- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A federal judge in Connecticut has ordered immigration officials to decide on a 1982 citizenship request by a man who was deported to Italy in 2011 because of misdemeanor convictions.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant in Hartford ruled late Thursday that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services failed to ever issue a decision on Arnold Giammarco’s naturalization application, violating a requirement to decide on such requests within a “reasonable time.” Bryant rejected the federal government’s arguments, including that Giammarco had abandoned his application.

“A three-decade long delay exceeds any rule of reason,” Bryant wrote in her ruling.

Giammarco, a U.S. Army veteran whose wife and 6-year-old daughter live in Niantic, moved to Connecticut legally with his family when he was a child in the early 1960s. He currently lives in Campo di Fano, about two hours east of Rome.

Giammarco and another Connecticut resident deported to Italy, Paula Milardo, were subpoenaed last month by Connecticut lawmakers to testify at an April 4 hearing about how criminal convictions and deportations affect immigrant families. Milardo, who was deported after a felony theft conviction, also immigrated legally to Connecticut as a child in the 1960s.

Immigration officials last week rejected their requests to return to Connecticut to testify. Giammarco and Milardo, who now lives Melilli in Sicily, are appealing those decisions.

“This gives me hope that one day I won’t have to tell our daughter why her dad can’t attend her parent teacher conferences and why she shouldn’t save a piece of birthday cake for him this year,” Giammarco’s wife, Sharon, said in a statement released by Yale Law School students, who are representing him.

A lawyer with the U.S. attorney’s office in Hartford who represents immigration officials didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

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