Julia Preston reports in the NY Times on the reunion of a family in Chicago that is the culmination of 22 years of struggling with the immigration system. Janina Wasilewski came to America when Poland was still a communist country. She sought political asylum and the case dragged on for several years. She was finally denied as a result of the change in government in her country. She had married Tony Wasilewski in the mean time and sought a different strategy for a green card. But the changes in the law in 1996 tripped her up and she became subject to a ten year reentry bar. Her deportation fight ended in 2007 and she was forced to leave with the couple's six year old American-born son Brian. Despite husband Tony becoming a US citizen and despite the separation of son Brian from his father and his country, two waiver requests were denied. Tony suffered a heart attack, ulcer attacks, bouts of depression and alcoholism as a result of the separation and only after documenting how difficult his life had become (and getting help from an excellent lawyer - Royal Berg - as well as the help of Congressman Luis Gutierrez's office) did a waiver finally get approved.
The Times describes why Mr. Wasilewski chose to stay and fight:
But it was Mr. Wasilewski, with his unyielding determination to provide his wife and child with a life in the United States, who ultimately won her return. In 2007, even after the country had expelled his wife, in one of the bleakest periods of his solitary wait, he decided to become an American citizen.
“It was very hard to choose between my family and the United States,” Mr. Wasilewski said by telephone from his home in Schiller Park, Ill. After traveling back to Poland to visit his wife and son, he said, “I choose America.”
He also wanted to erase the stain of deportation on his family. “I did it for three reasons for my wife,” he said, using a grand phrase that has been his mantra: “Honor, dignity and justice.”
Congratulations to the Wasilewski family and we hope that life will be much happier going forward. It is just a terrible shame that you were put through this ordeal.