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Jose's Story

In 1982, Jose’s son was killed during the Salvadoran civil war because he was suspected of being a military sympathizer. Two of his nephews were killed for the same reason, while a third nephew, suspected of being with the guerillas, was detained and tortured. In 1989, Jose, age 50, and his wife Maria, age 37, came to the US seeking a safer life. They left their sons, Mario and Luis, ages 7 and 5 respectively, behind with their maternal grandmother, believing that they were too young to make the dangerous trip. By 1994, however, Jose’s family had reunited and came to EBECC at the advice of a friend to inquire about their eligibility for ABC political asylum since they had already been awarded Temporary Protected Status (TPS). EBECC staff helped with their application and then with renewal of their work permits each subsequent year. 

In 2001, Jose’s family returned to EBECC yet again, this time to apply for legal permanent residency under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA). In July 2002, all 4 family members were called in for their NACARA interviews. The immigration official granted Jose and Maria legal permanent residency, but discovered that the application numbers which had been assigned to Mario and Luis in 1994 had also been assigned to two Korean individuals. This issue needed to be resolved at the immigration court level in New York before a decision could be made on Mario and Luis’ applications. 

And so ensued 18 months of follow-up by EBECC staff. Many phone calls were made to remind INS personnel about the unresolved issue. Letters were written to the official who had conducted the interview, the chief of NACARA cases at the New Jersey asylum office, and to the director of that office. In the meantime, Mario married and he and his wife had a baby and Luis entered his last year of high school. On January 21st, the EBECC Immigration Coordinator received a call from the official who had conducted the NACARA interviews informing her that both Mario and Luis’s cases had been resolved. Ten years after their reunification in the U.S., all 4 family members were legal permanent residents, with Jose and Maria looking forward to becoming citizens and Luis to getting the financial aid that would allow him to attend college in September!

No Human Being is Illegal



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