Dumb Foggy Bottom
From the Palm Beach Post-
BOCA RATON — Behind the doors of the Oncology Department at Boca Raton Community Hospital, a doctor spends more than the required time with a patient. He offers to grant his patient, Zoila Guerra, what could be her last wish: to see her daughter, who lives in Peru, for Christmas.The Post editorialized today on this news.
Guerra, 44, says it's the sound of the word cancer, and not death, that scares her. But more than anything, she's afraid of never seeing her daughter again.
"She's the best thing in my life," Guerra says, with a smile that shouldn't be there because it's Wednesday, chemotherapy day.
It is the thought of the call she would get later that day that gives her strength. The U.S. Embassy in Lima might grant her daughter, Claudia Torres, the humanitarian visa she needs to come visit her mother in time for Christmas.
But hours later the call came with word that the embassy denied the request.
"It's Christmas and we want her to be with her daughter," said Dr. Tim Williams, who's been treating Guerra for free for a year. "This whole country is built on compassion but we don't even seem to be getting any consideration."
That despite having sent letters and proof detailing Guerra's condition.
The State Department said it is not allowed to discuss specific cases, but generally people applying for a visa have to prove there's no intention of staying here.
"That's the biggest obstacle," department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said.
At the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Torres, 24, said she was told her visa request was denied because years ago, when she applied for a visitor's visa, she didn't mention her mother was sick. She said the embassy didn't let her explain.
"The interview didn't even last one minute," said Torres, who hasn't seen her mother in seven years. "My mother isn't well. I want to hug her. I need her, she needs me."
Torres said the first time she applied for a visa, she didn't know of her mother's illness and just wanted to come visit her.
Last year, her mother was rushed into the hospital's emergency department with hemorrhage. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer but some radiation sessions later it seemed contained. A few months ago it came back stronger.
Williams says it's not certain how much time Guerra has left.
"We can't cure her but we hope to buy her a good amount of time," Williams said. In his hands he holds a plane ticket for Torres for Sunday, Dec. 24. "We are not giving up," he said.
Thoughts only of her relatives accompany Guerra. She thinks of how her brothers and sister will react, having already lost many family members to cancer. Sometimes she can't sleep, out of the habit of having her daughter sleeping next to her.
"I need her," she said.
The United States has always set aside provisions within its immigration policy to allow refuge or entry into the country for extraordinary cases of suffering or oppression.Bottom line- I agree with the Post. The embassy in Peru should issue an emergency visa to Claudia Torres. Its time for some humanity rather than robotic 'we following the rules' reactions from our the State Department. Screw the rules.
The federal government has wide discretion to grant emergency visas to foreigners with compelling stories. Unfortunately, too often the discretion is poorly applied or lost in bureaucratic red tape. Deserving requests get rejected or ignored.
Zoila Guerra shouldn't be one of those. The 44-year-old Peruvian woman is dying of cervical cancer and receiving treatment at Boca Raton Community Hospital. What could be Ms. Guerra's last wish is to see her daughter Claudia Torres, who lives in Lima, Peru. Ms. Torres has bought a Christmas Eve plane ticket to come to Florida, but the government is denying her visa request to enter the country. A State Department spokesman says the main obstacle is convincing federal officials that Ms. Torres does not intend to stay here, though she has stipulated she does not.
Dr. Tim Williams, who has been treating Ms. Guerra for free, has it right: "This whole country is built on compassion, but we don't even seem to be getting any consideration." A nation that always has valued generosity should allow a dying woman to spend her last holidays with her daughter. It's more than discretion; it's our tradition.
Linked to- Stuck on Stupid, Bullwinkle, Basil's Blog,