I have said for 16 years our immigration system penalizes people who want to legally immigrate and obey the law rather than punish those who want to illegally enter this country. These opinions of mine began when I petitioned for my Philippine born wife to be allowed to come to the US after our marriage in 1989. (Yesterday was our 16th wedding anniversary)
Compounding these feelings was an incident this year where my brother-in-law a cruise ship musician was deported for staying in the US between work contracts as he stayed with his cancer stricken mother. The US has to be made safe from Philippine pianists!
Lo and behold there was a article in today's Palm Beach Post. A mother and US citizen is being kept separated from her four year old son while immigration plays footsie with the boy's paperwork. This is so twisted. Why can't some common sense take over and someone issue this boy a visitor visa and end this. When a US citizen and her natural born minor son have to live half the world apart because of our immigration laws, there is really no justice in this country.
I'm reposting the whole Palm Beach Post(www.pbpost.com) article below.
By Jane Daugherty
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
WEST PALM BEACH — Christian DeGrow was only four months old when his teenage mother, a U.S. citizen, tearfully left him in the Philippines, where he was born, to find work in Florida.
"There are no jobs in the Philippines, even for college graduates. People get sick from the water, especially in rural areas like where I lived. There are no sewers and raw sewage runs in the streets when it rains," said Christian's mother, Diana DeGrow Vattiat, now 23 and married to Paul Vattiat of West Palm Beach.
"I reluctantly left my baby with my mother for what I thought would be six months so I could earn enough money to get an apartment and bring him to the United States," she said.
Diana got a job as a Publix cashier, which is how she met Paul, manager of food services at GE Medical in Jupiter. Paul, a Florida native, began helping her with the voluminous paperwork required by U.S. immigration officials, whose agency became part of the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 attacks.
That was more than three years ago. She still has no idea when she will be reunited with her child.
"She would cry every time we started filling out the forms," Vattiat said. "Sometimes we would have to start over because the ink would get messed up. She still cries every night for her baby."
Her plight is not unusual, said Cheryl Little, an attorney and executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami.
"When a U.S. citizen can't get her minor child into the country, it's just ludicrous," Little said.
"There is no question that he is eligible to come here. Family unity is supposed to be the cornerstone of our immigration policy, but there are plenty of other cases like theirs where the paperwork falls into this bureaucratic morass."
Under immigration law, minor children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad are entitled to enter the United States to live with their parent or parents. They are usually granted quick citizenship.
"I found out later that if I had brought him with me on a visitor's visa, he could have stayed here," Diana Vattiat said, choking back tears. "But I had almost no money and needed to get a job to work to support him. I thought I was doing the right thing leaving him with my mother for a few months until I could afford to send for him."
Diana and Paul Vattiat have another child on the way, due Aug. 3, but the couple cannot figure out what to do to reunite 4-year-old Christian with his mother.
There is no doubt about Diana's citizenship. The daughter of a U.S. serviceman, she has a valid U.S. passport and an official birth certificate showing that she is Christian's mother, said immigration attorney Stuart Karden, whom they hired to handle their case.
"Unfortunately, this process can take a very, very long time," Karden said. "It's heartbreaking for the families, but the reality is this paperwork can take years to be processed. I wish they would come back to me and hire me to do some more work for them."
But after spending several thousand dollars to retain Karden, Paul Vattiat said they no longer can afford additional legal fees, especially with no guarantee that Christian would be able to join them.
"Our case has been assigned to the Texas district office, then transferred to Vermont when it was about to come up for a decision, then transferred to Nebraska when it was scheduled to come up for a decision in Vermont — or maybe Nebraska was before Vermont," Vattiat said with disgust.
He and Diana have made three trips to the Philippines to see Christian and his grandmother. They also have applied for a visitor's visa for Imelda DeGrow so she can visit Christian in the United States, making the transition easier on both. The last trip cost more than $6,000, they said.
"He's very attached to my mother," Diana said. "But when we left the Philippines a few weeks ago, he was telling all his friends that Paul is getting all the papers to bring him to the U.S. to live with us and be his daddy."
Paul has begun the paperwork to adopt Christian, but because that takes longer than petitioning to bring him to this country as the child of a U.S. citizen, that is an issue for when — or if — he arrives.
"We've spent thousands and thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees, filing fees for all the immigration forms, producing documentation of Diana's citizenship," he said. "The immigration people told us to expect this to take 990 days and that's because their computer system time log doesn't go to four figures. They told us that people were transferred out of processing families' immigration requests to fighting terrorism.
"This ordeal for us has been torture. Can you imagine a mother being kept from her baby when there are no legal issues? He's not exactly a terrorist threat. They acknowledge that Diana is a U.S. citizen and that Christian totally qualifies for a visa to come here to live with her and become a citizen. There are no quotas that affect his status because he's a minor child of a U.S. citizen."
Five calls to the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services in Washington and Miami, seeking information on Christian DeGrow's case, were not returned.
The CIS computer system listed the case as last reviewed Nov. 14, 2004, with initial processing complete, and projected that it would take "less than" another 540 days to reach the next stage, a review by the Philippine consul.
"You're usually talking about another 300 days for that process," Karden said.
Pleas to two local congressmen have failed to speed up the process.
When the Vatiatts lived in a rented home in Lake Worth, they contacted U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr.'s office for help but were offered only assistance with filling out the forms.
After Hurricane Jeanne destroyed their home and most of their belongings, they moved to West Palm Beach and contacted U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's office. His local staff members also offered to help with the paperwork, Paul Vattiat said, but advised that they could do nothing to hasten the processing by the Department of Homeland Security.
"We weren't asking for special treatment, just for the case to be ruled on," Vattiat said. "In the meantime, Christian is growing up without the benefit of the educational opportunities we could give him, without good water, without medical care. We send $300-$500 a month to his grandmother for his care, but even the food she can buy is sometimes limited.
"We got as far as the check-in for the plane to the U.S. with him three weeks ago. I bought him a ticket and we had his Philippine passport, hoping we could bring him home with us, but they refused to let him board ...
"Mother's Day was a very sad time at our house and it doesn't look like Father's Day is going to be any better."