Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Time for Compassion - continued

UPDATE 3-4-2010: Here is the response I received via e-mail to my appeal for a reconsideration of Orlando's case. I'm assuming that the responder has chosen to remain anonymous because they are too ashamed to publicly attach their name to what they have written (I certainly would be). I share it with you so you can understand just how impossible our current immigration law is. Please continue to pray and work for a change of heart from our diplomats in Lima and for a comprehensive immigration reform that will address these kinds of situations.
As you may know, the presumption in U.S. immigration law is that every applicant for a visitor visa is intending to immigrate. The law places the burden of overcoming this assumption on the applicant. When evaluating whether an applicant has established eligibility, a consular officer looks at the purpose of the proposed visit and reasons the person would return to her own country. The officer takes into consideration the totality of the applicant’s situation, including family, community, professional, property, and economic ties to the applicant’s home country, as well as any ties to the United States.

We understand Mr. Cossio's desire to travel during this difficult moment of his father's life. But you have to understand that these are often tough decisions for consular officers, who base their judgments on knowledge of local conditions and evidence presented by applicants. Our work is to evaluate the qualifications of the applicant and consider the requirements of U.S. law; our decisions are in no way a reflection on the individuals inviting them. If the law allowed for a system to place the responsibility for an applicant on their American family or friends, that would make our jobs much easier. As it is, however, we rely on the understanding of the American public that we seek to follow U.S. immigration law, as it exists.

Unfortunately, consular officers' decisions cannot be appealed.


Consular Section, NIV Unit
American Embassy, Lima-Peru
Several days ago, I wrote in this blog about a friend, Angel Cossio, who has advanced metastatic cancer of the pancreas. Angelito's last wish is to be able to see his son, Orlando, who lives in Peru -- a country to which Angelito can no longer travel. Angelito is completely bedridden, on oxygen and many kinds of medication, and no longer able to eat solid foods, just very soft foods (soup, icecream, etc..) and liquids.

As I wrote, in spite of showing letters testifying to his father's condition, Orlando was denied a visa under INA 214(b) based on not having "sufficiently strong" ties to his native Peru. Never mind that Orlando is married, has a job in Lima, and has never been to the United States before. Other than his dying father, ALL of Orlando's family ties are in Peru. A group of us from Angelito's parish stand ready to help Orlando with air fare and provide hospitality to him for as long as necessary. All we are asking from the United States government is to do the right thing and grant him a visa.

If you would like to express your outrage at this heartless ruling and ask the U.S. Embassy in Lima to reconsider this case, you can do so through a comment form on the embassy Web site:

Here are some pointers for how to fill the form out:

Your Phone Number in Peru: "not applicable" (unless you live in Peru). You have to put this in because there must be something in that field.
Full Name of Applicant: Orlando Martin Cossio Praelli
Select: "non-immigrant visa"
Immigrant Visa Case Number: leave this field empty since we don't know what the number is.

The subject line defaults to "Denial of Visa", which is what this is about.

Then write in 600 characters or less -- this is the hard part! -- why you think this decision is unfair and should be reversed. You can write your comments in English or in Spanish.

I, and all of Angelito's friends, thank you for your solidarity with us on this case, which should have been a slam dunk but instead has ended up being another perfect example of how broken our immigration system is.


  1. This is very sad and I am sure that there are other cases like this one. I'll fill the form later or tomorrow morning, but I doubt that it will help. Looks like Angelito doesn't have a lot of time from what you say about his condition, perhaps days.
    I'm sorry to say but this is the result of too many abuses to the system, too many cases of overstayed visas and bringing family in through trickery, I know this is not the place or time to talk about this, but is the truth. Immigration officials do not trust applicants from certain countries.
    I've known people here that got visas using death persons names and documentation, lied about age and others that got people in just so they can use welfare and Medicare.
    Angelito's cases is legitimate, unfortunately again: "Pagan justos por pecadores".

  2. Thank you for helping us with this campaign, JuanMM. I think God is with us because Rep. James Moran's office wrote a very strong letter to the US Embassy in Lima in support of granting the visa and Moran's staff member who handles immigration issues spoke directly to Orlando in Peru and advised him on how he could make his case stronger.

    Angelito was transfered yesterday to a different hospice in Baltimore for insurance reasons, a development which makes our work more difficult but -- again, Dios esta con nosotros -- I was able to get in touch with the deacon at a nearby Jesuit parish who agreed to bring Holy Communion to Angelito so we have been able to get some continuity of spiritual care. Deo gratias.