Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Reason

I've been on a sort of high all week, and I've barely slept. I find myself smiling for no reason at all. I still can't believe that in a few short months my husband will be home and we will be able to finally pick up where things left off two years ago. I had begun to lose hope in the last month or so. I reached a point of such desperation that I began telling everyone that I didn't think my husband would ever come home again. This approval came just when I needed it the most, and I'm so thankful for it.

Many people have asked me why my husband couldn't return to the U.S. or why was it taking so long. Others treated me as if I had done something wrong. I must have done something wrong if I, a U.S. citizen, couldn't get my spouse status in this country. Those words hurt the most because what people don't know is that I have been fighting for him for over six(6) years.

I cannot give you the entire history of what happened to him in Algeria, beginning in 1991, or what happened after he left in 1995. I can tell you that he entered the U.S. in 1999 with fraudulent documents in order to apply for political asylum. He applied for asylum within a number of months, was granted legal work authorization, and his case continued for 5 years.

We married in 2002 while his asylum was pending and I filed a petition for alien relative in February 2003. In June 2005 his asylum was denied and we appealed to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. While that appeal was pending, our alien relative petition was approved 2.5 years after filing. Because of the type of visa he used to enter the country, he was not allowed to adjust status here to get his green card.

In late 2005 his appeal was denied, and we prepared for filing with the 8th circuit federal court of appeals. We went on with our lives. My husband continuted working legally and I graduated from college. I began working and three months later, while our 8th circuit appeal was pending, we received a notice to appear at the local immigration office. I'd written about this experience before so I will not go into details here, but that day my husband was taken into custody of immigration officials. He spent 106 days in a county jail before ultimately being sent back to Algeria.

This is where things really become complicated. Upon his departure from the U.S., he received a lifetime inadmissibility for his fraudulent entry. Had his asylum been approved, this would have been forgiven. It's a common form of entry for those who fear for their lives because they have no other way. This meant that he was banned from the U.S. for life.

In the first months of his detention/removal, we were preparing for our interview at the U.S. embassy in Algeria. For nearly a year our interview was not scheduled because he had difficulty obtaining a police clearance certificate. We finally received that certificate when I was in Algeria visiting him for the first time last year, and his interview was scheduled for July 12, 2008.

At his interview, when most intending immigrants would be issued a visa, he was denied because of his lifetime inadmissibility. We were already aware that this would happen and prepared to file to waive his inadmissibilities. One for the fraudulent entry/visa overstay and another for the deportation. We turned in a 100+ page packet prepared by our lawyer outlining the extreme hardship we would face if my husband were not allowed to re-enter the country. One would think it only makes sense that a married couple would need to live together but that is not the case.

The paperwork was turned in that day in July and forwarded over to the Department of Homeland Security in Rome. It took 3 months for his paperwork to be forwarded because of lengthy background checks. It was received in Rome in October 2008 and we began to wait again.

Finally, just his week, we were notified that we had been approved. Most people have absolutely no understanding of the complexities of immigration law in this country. A great injustice has been done to my family in the last two years, but thankfully this is almost behind us now. My husband can return to being a husband again. He can return to taking care of his son who needs him greatly. Abdu will never have to be in the hospital again without his father by his side. We will be a family again.

I urge you all to please consider supporting American families United to help others in similar situations.