This strikes me as one of those stories that, once having had the bright light of media shined in its direction, will be resolved fairly. But my perception about such things was shaped back in the days when low-level bureaucrats, ever the sticklers for rules, were encouraged by a compassionate (and easily embarrassed) government to break those rules for the little guy when fair was really fair. Now we have a government that is utterly shameless and only breaks rules for its own benefit, while it tyrannically enforces adherence by everyone else, no matter how ridiculous. So I’m not as sure how this will turn out as I once was. Anyway:
While the U.S. military searches for a soldier missing in Iraq, kidnapped by insurgents possibly allied with al Qaeda, his wife back home in Massachusetts may be deported by the U.S. government.
Army Spec. Alex Jimenez, who has been missing since his unit was attacked by insurgents in Iraq on May 12, had petitioned for a green card for his wife, Yaderlin Hiraldo, whom he married in 2004.
…Her attorney is seeking a hardship waiver, which so far the government won’t grant.
In typical fashion*, it was because the couple petitioned to make Hiraldo legal that her illegal status was discovered and she was summarily threatened with deportation: “Her husband’s request for a green card and legal residence status for his wife alerted authorities to her status, [their attorney, Matthew Kolken] said.”
Thank the fates for Senator Kerry stepping up to the plate on Hiraldo’s behalf.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has asked federal immigration officials not to deport Hiraldo.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Kerry said the grief and stress being felt by Hiraldo should not be compounded by worries about her immigration status.
“Under no condition should our country ever deport the spouse of a soldier who is currently serving in uniform abroad,” Kerry said. “I feel even more strongly in this case, given the terrible uncertainty surrounding Army Specialist Alex Jimenez.”
In his letter, Kerry urged that no action be taken against Hiraldo while her husband remains missing.
“I believe this is a very real test of our government’s compassion for a military family which has already made enormous sacrifices for the United States,” he wrote.
Right on. I hope Chertoff & Co. still have enough soul to be shamed, since I don’t think we can bank on compassion.
* Early in Mr. Shakes’ immigration process, something similar (but on a much, much smaller scale) happened to us, which I’ll share just to point out how silly the INS/DHS/wev can be about its gazillions of rules. We’d filed all the paperwork for the fiancée visa, and it was in process; we were just waiting to find out the date when he would go the Embassy and get his final paperwork. We were literally weeks away from his being able to legally reside in the US (contingent on our getting married within 90 days), and he decided to come for a visit. Our thought was that he’d come to stay for a few weeks, and when we got the notice, we’d fly back to London together and get the visa, and then come home together. So he was on his way over, flying through Dublin, and he gets stopped by US customs, who tell him he’s not allowed to enter the US because his visa application indicates an intent to stay in the US—and it’s illegal for foreigners to enter the US with an intent to stay. (We had no idea he couldn’t visit once the visa application was in process.) So he was turned away because they figured at the one yard line of the huge rigmarole that is legal immigration, he was going to chuck it all and just become an illegal alien. How idiotic is that? Ultimately, I just went to Scotland instead and we hung out there until the visa came through.
The thing I’d like to point out about our case (and the story here) is that it was only because we were trying to do things legally that immigration services knew one of their rules was getting broken. And on trips to various immigration offices, we’ve repeatedly seen security called on people who are at the immigration office trying to get their paperwork sorted out—whole families, including kids, handcuffed and detained. No benefit of the doubt is given to people who are trying to do the right thing. Someone who gets deported has learned that if they sneak back in, or even fly in completely legally then get off the plane and just simply stay, they’re probably not going to get caught, unless they do something foolish like try to get legal. That’s a big flaw in our system.