By: Shabnam Lotfi - Published on August 21st, 2019
For Immediate Release, August 21, 2019
Contact: Jessica Slind, firstname.lastname@example.org
Owner May Be Forced to Move Abroad After His Spouse Was Denied U.S. Visa
MADISON— The owner of Michael’s Frozen Custard, a Madison, Wisconsin institution, is closing one location on September 9th and may have to shut down the business entirely after his spouse was denied a U.S. visa. Michael Dix opened the first Michael’s Frozen Custard location in Madison in 1986. More than three decades later, Michael’s Frozen Custard has expanded to two more locations; has been featured on the Food Network and written up in the New York Times and New York Post; and has earned a place in the hearts of Madisonians of all ages.
But the community is now in danger of losing this fan favorite: Michael Dix’s spouse, Sergio De La O Hernandez, an undocumented Madison resident, was denied a visa that would have allowed him to gain legal status in the United States and rejoin Michael in their Wisconsin home. The two are currently in Mexico, Sergio’s country of origin, evaluating their options.
Michael and Sergio were married on New Year’s Eve of 2015 in an intimate ceremony at their home just outside Madison. Sergio had previous experience working in the frozen custard business, so it was natural for him to assist his new spouse in running Michael’s Frozen Custard. Sergio quickly began directing daily operations, and under his management, their business saw a period of exceptional growth and expansion.
After their marriage, Michael sponsored Sergio for a U.S. visa so that Sergio could acquire legal status and come out of the shadows where so many undocumented people are forced to live their lives. But when Sergio traveled to Mexico to attend his visa interview in August of 2018, he was told that he would neither be given a visa, nor would he be able to rejoin his spouse in Wisconsin, the only home he has known for the last thirty years.
Due to Sergio’s absence, Michael’s Frozen Custard has suffered significant losses in revenue. Michael explains his decision to close one of the business’ locations: “It is with a heavy heart that I will be closing the Monroe Street location—the first Michael’s location—on September 9th to prevent additional losses to our business. My separation from Sergio has been extremely painful for both of us and has been disastrous for my business.”
“We are all extremely disappointed with the government’s decision to deny Mr. Hernandez’s visa,” said Attorney Jessica Slind, an immigration attorney with Lotfi Legal LLC, a Madison-based immigration law firm, who is handling Michael and Sergio’s case. “He has lived in the United States for over 30 years. He has spent that time working hard and contributing to this community, he has a spouse and a daughter here, and he has no criminal record; Mr. Hernandez’s case is more than deserving of an approval under our laws. The denial of his visa is causing this family an enormous amount of pain. And the effects will reverberate throughout the entire community. The closing of Michael’s directly translates into losses for the local economy and the people of Madison.”
Attorney Slind continued, “We are not done fighting for Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Dix. Mr. Hernandez should not be barred from the United States. This family needs to be together in Wisconsin. The cruel immigration policies and rhetoric of the Trump Administration are causing needless suffering to this family and to families around the country. These policies are bad for people, bad for families, and bad for business.”