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Dear Editor of Immigration Daily: 

Here on this day after Independence Day, I sit in my office with a heavy heart and a frustrated family.  I am pastor in Phoenix, Arizona.  Please take time to read my family's story since no one else seems able to help us. 

I have raised my two daughters to be good Christians and loyal citizens.  While I have traveled through more than 20 countries around the world teaching other pastors, I find the situation my family now faces as one of the worst trials we've been through.

    In the summer of 1996, my youngest daughter Melissa met a bright young man, Jesus Flores, an excellent student, a law-abiding Christian, and a man who has treated her like "pure gold."  Although he was born in Mexico, he was brought to Phoenix as a child of 8 years old.  He attended school here and graduated from High School in Phoenix in 1997.  They began dating regular just before his graduation.  They were scheduled to be married in February 1998, when he was asked to report to the INS.  Although his parents were the ones who had done the wrong, he was deported that day without notice.  My daughter, her mother and I, hired a lawyer to represent him at the INS, but he took our $1000 retainer fee and we never saw him again after the deportation.  Under another immigration lawyer's advice, he returned to the United States in February 1998 and they were married in May 1998.  We fought for him, we paid almost five thousand in government fees, doctor exams, lawyer fees, and other required fees, not counting hundreds of dollars for hotel rooms, travel, and meals.  We had a hearing in June 2000 at the consulate in Juarez, Mexico, but instead of getting a final victory, he was banned for reentering the country after being deported (even though he was advised to do so by his attorney to make sure the marriage was legitimate).   

Now, he has moved to Mexicali, where he is temporarily living with an uncle and aunt.  But they say they cannot afford to keep him.  He has never been culturalized to Mexico and feels lost/lonely.  My 23 year-old daughter is having to move there and get a job in Yuma, AZ. (56 miles away) or El Centro, CA. (15 miles north).  We have exhausted both our savings and her savings.  She has severe health problems from a car accident in 1990 and stomach problems that have developed because of stress.  She must retain her American Health Insurance.  The doctors tell us she is not getting better because of all her worries. What are we to do?  She is an American Citizen!  Why is she being punished by our government for being a faithful and loving wife?  Her mother and I trained her that way.  Our religion does not believe in divorce and she would never consider that anyway.  She will be in danger everyday having to live in Mexico and drive to the U. S. to work daily.  Why can't someone understand and help us!  Please!!!  Has America's fear of Mexicans clouded their perception of liberty and justice for all?  Maybe no one will even read this plea, but I have to try.  I have pastored for almost thirty years and I now pastor a church that is multicultural and has ten languages spoken in it.  If people in my church can live as one people, why can't America join us in this same harmony? Quit treating Mexicans like criminals while we give millions in aid to Bosnians, Croatians, Kurds, Russians, Ethiopians, Kosovars, Vietnamese, and Cambodians.  I love them all, but why do we treat our own neighbors to the South like enemies.  God forgive our nation that was founded on equal opportunity.  Forgive my rambling on, I am a preacher.  Thank you for reading this email and God bless any of you who can help us.  My daughter Melissa Flores needs your help soon!!!  She will be moving by the end of July 2000 and has already had to give notice at her job in Phoenix that she trained for all her life.  What a tragedy! 

 In grateful appreciation for your time.

 Wallace and Judy Pratt