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Disabled man gets citizenship, caretaker still considered illegal

A disabled man who was granted asylum upon entering America years ago has now been made a U.S. citizen. Citizenship remains out of reach for his family members, however, who continue to live in Texas to take care of their injured relative. Even though the injured man's sister lives with him and even held up his hand during the citizenship ceremony, she shockingly remains unable to obtain legal status in this country. Officials say the family's situation is strange, while advocates call it inexcusable. The woman is considered her brother's legal guardian, but she is not permitted to live legally in this country.

The man came to the U.S. in 1995 after facing genocide in his native Guatemala. The 43-year-old man ended up in Brownsville, Texas, where he was taken into custody. Two years later, he was given asylum because of his personal circumstances. His sister and younger brother both came to visit him while he was working in Texas as a mechanic and baker. Toward the end of their visit in 2003, the man suffered a debilitating injury at work when a vehicle fell onto him, crushing his chest. He was in a coma for more than two weeks. Doctors feared the worst, and told the siblings their brother might die.

It does not appear that the man's family members were nefariously attempting to sneak into the country. However, they have been forced to stay to care for the man. The victim has a son, but he is only 15 years old. The family's attorneys say the man would have ended up as a ward of the state if his family members had not stayed to help. Now, they are fighting for residency themselves. The relatives are still pursuing legal status.

Immigration cases are rarely standard. They come with a variety of complications. Immigration decisions about citizenship may seem strange and unfair. Qualified Texas attorneys may be able to educate those seeking citizenship about federal legal processes.

Source: Austin American-Statesman, "Disabled man allowed citizenship; family denied" Marty Toohey, Jan. 24, 2014

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