Sunday, August 5, 2012

When I was a Stranger . . . Fill in the Blank

The Final Judgment: Jesus Separates the Sheep from the Goats
Several years ago, I had two Ethiopian seminarians staying with me and they needed to adjust their immigration status.  I went with them to the immigration office, waited in a long line, and was given immigration documents to fill out.  The forms, rules, and regulations were entirely indecipherable to me.  After getting through a few pages of the form, it said, "do not use this form if your current status is such and such."  I asked the seminarians whose form it was, "What status are you?"  Sure enough, we had the wrong form.  Back in line again.  I left there with the thought, "It is no wonder why there are so many people staying in the country illegally.  It is nearly impossible to figure out how to stay here legally."

Today, after Mass a wonderful young man in my parish asked if he could speak with me.  He is from Liberia and recently was received into the Catholic Church and confirmed.  He is a citizen of the US now and his wife had a student visa.  They were civilly married but wanted to return home in order to have a Catholic wedding in his wife's home country.  They checked with immigration to see if it were okay for them to leave and then return.  They were assured it was.  The plan was that upon their return they would meet with immigration (an appointment had already been set) and her status would change from "student" to "permanent resident."

On their return this week to Logan Airport, she was detained and deported because she shouldn't have left the country before her status changed.  Even though they had specifically asked whether there would be a problem coming back and were told no, she was told that ignorance of the law isn't an excuse.

So, you have this beautiful young couple who are both hardworking, studious, and dedicated to raising a good Christian family separated for potentially six months to a year.  There's no moral to this story and no political commentary.  But, maybe somebody who reads this blog will figure out a way to help them.  If nothing else, say a prayer for them because they are really quite distraught.

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