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Immigration Law

Husband’s Perseverance Helps Wife and Son Win OK to Return Home to US, Six Years Early

Posted Aug 9, 2011 8:59 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After his wife and son had to return to Poland four years ago, because she had fallen afoul of United States immigration law and been banned from this country for 10 years, Tony Wasilewski went into something of a tailspin.

Jobs are scarce, so he stayed here to run the family's cleaning business. Meanwhile, she couldn't find work in Poland, so he sent her money there. Then the economy soured, he became depressed and caring for his cancer-stricken father didn't help. Several times he thought of killing himself. Today, at 42, he lives in a one-bedroom apartment after being forced to sell the family's home because he could no longer make the mortgage payment, reports the Chicago Tribune.

But the family's story has a happier ending than many: Yesterday, Wasilewski met his wife, Janina, 45, and son, Brian, 10, at O'Hare International Airport along with a crowd of well-wishers. Due to his perseverance, including testimony before Congress; the help of a tenacious lawyer, Royal Berg; and public concern created by media coverage and a documentary film, the Wasilewskis were able to win a waiver of the 10-year ban and the family is again reunited, according to the New York Times (sub. req.).

The family's situation has supported a campaign by some to broaden the definition of what is considered an extreme hardship to a close relative who is a citizen, thus making it easier to justify allowing a member who is here illegally to stay in the United States. Although Brian is a citizen, because he was born in the United States, his separation from his father did not meet this test, the Times notes.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "US System Stymies Would-be Citizens"

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