Sunday, August 16, 2009

By Gonzalo “Jun” Policarpio


I have witnessed first hand tears flowing from so many alien applicants for immigration benefits either for receiving an approval or a denial of their applications to have a Green Card or to become a U.S. citizen.

As a former Adjudications Officer of the U.S.C.I.S New York District Office, it’s indeed heartbreaking for any person waiting for many years for an approval to receive the bad news of being denied the benefit of permanent residence in the United States.

I cannot forget the tears even that of one of my relatives who aged out and failed to receive a Green Card because the slow pace of the immigration process. Somehow our lawmakers had seen the light and passed the Child Status Protection Act to benefit those who aged out at the time of the adjustment interview.

Here’s the case of my 89-year old aunt, sister of my late father, Gonzalo J. Policarpio, Sr., who almost believed that she would never be able to visit the Philippines, especially her mansion in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.

She was petitioned by her elder sister who was a U.S. citizen some fifteen years ago. The waiting time under this category is about 20 years to have an available visa number.

Fortunately, one of her children became a U.S. citizen about 2 years ago. Her daughter promptly petitioned her for adjustment to lawful permanent residence.

Unluckily, she could not produce her arrival document or I-94 to prove her legal entry. Her lawyer filed for an application to replace the lost document. For almost a year her lawyer was still waiting for the document that never came. She was told that she needed to produce the I-94 in order to start the application process.

Finally she decided to ask for my help in her predicament. I gave her instructions on how to file the application papers and other related documents without the “precious” I-94.

A few months after filing her immigration documents, she received her work permit or employment authorization document after being required to be fingerprinted two times. In fact, she does not need to be fingerprinted because of her old age and she does not need the work permit because she was already too old to work. What she wanted was a Green Card.

I then helped her draft a letter to a USCIS regional office requesting follow-up of her application. What she got was another letter informing that her application was transferred to another center in California for processing. After a few months of waiting, nothing happened.

So I finally decided to draft a stronger letter addressed to the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, my former employer, stating that the applicant may not be alive anymore to receive the Green Card given the long delay of the process.

A few weeks ago, my 89-year old aunt called me and ecstatically told me that she already got her most wanted document, her Green Card.

Now she plans to visit her birthplace in Cabanatuan City and celebrate her birthday there in November. I don’t know if she will invite Senator Manny Villar, first cousin of her son-in-law for a long delayed get-together.

Believe me, Uncle Sam has a good heart!



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