PASCO, Wash. - Juan Perez and his wife, Diana, have been living nearly 3,000 miles apart for the last two years. Juan is a Marine veteran who was deployed twice to Iraq. He lives in Sunnyside with his parents while Diana lives in Acapulco, Mexico. She's stuck there because U.S. immigration officials won't let her back into the country.
"Nothing's been the same since after she left," Perez said.
Juan and Diana were married in October of 2008. After they tied the knot, Juan learned Diana was not a legal resident. The couple was directed to Fort Lewis for immigration help. There she was told to go to Mexico for an immigrant visa appointment.
"Then when she went down there that's when we found out it's ten years for her to stay down there because she didn't have a waiver," Perez said.
That was the first they'd heard of any waiver. Juan went back to Fort Lewis for an explanation.
"If she was here right now there's actually a waiver that she didn't have to leave the country. Oh, that's nice. This was a couple of months after she was already down there," Perez said.
They waiver they submitted, a couple page letter, was eventually denied. So Juan got in touch with Tom Roach, a local attorney who has ample experience with cases like this one.
"We just won another one today. We've won 72 of these cases in a row in the last three years," Roach said.
Roach helped the couple build a new hardship waiver. There are four requirements: emotional, medical, educational and economic hardships.
Juan was diagnosed with PTSD and is studying criminal justice under the G.I. Bill. Right now, he's living with his parents in Sunnyside to make ends meet.
"So he's got every element that the government requires to prove hardship. We documented everything, even getting a medical opinion. And they tell us it's not enough," Roach said.
Roach's first hardship waiver was denied just after the couple's four year anniversary. They now have until February 22nd to provide additional evidence that being apart is a hardship for the couple.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 2:40 AM EDT2013-05-21 06:40:56 GMT
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