A family of Korean immigrants who live in Bayside fear they may be split apart after a broker whom they paid to handle their green card applications failed to follow the proper procedures.
Joanne Lee, 17, who will be a senior this fall at Flushing’s Townsend Harris High School, said her family is concerned that she; her sister, Hayoung, 15,and their mother, Yoojung Choi Lee, could be deported after U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services denied their applications for green cards.
A broker whom the family paid $16,000 to handle the filings did not include all of the necessary documents, Joanne Lee said.
“She assured us all the proceedings were legal,” said Lee, who is an honor roll student. “But she was a fraud. She filed the wrong papers.”
Lee’s father, Bong Chang Lee, and brother, Jason, 5, would be allowed to stay in the United States. The mother and daughters first moved from South Korea to Queens in 2000 to find treatment for Hayoung Lee, who suffers from a form of epilepsy, but the father, who is a manager at a food plant in Rockland County, arrived shortly thereafter and applied for a green card separately. The couple’s son was born in the United States.
The family first lived in Douglaston before moving to Bayside.
Manhattan firm Bretz & Coven has taken on the family’s case pro bono after being moved by their story.
“Had their applications been properly filed, they would all have their green cards right now,” attorney Kerry Bretz said.
In Korea, the couple had been told their daughter, Hayoung, only had one year to live. So, they traveled to the United States to meet with the doctors and found the original diagnosis was incorrect.
David Kim, an attorney at Bretz & Coven, said the firm is attempting to get the family protected under immigration law 245(i), which allows aliens to apply for an adjustment of legal status after their immigration petitions are approved. The family will return to court in late July.
“I’ve explained to the judge the special circumstances of the case,” Kim said. “He seemed to be sympathetic. If deported, the family will be forced to separate. It would basically ruin the family.”
Hayoung Lee’s physical condition prevents her from air travel, while Bong Chang Lee has a device implanted in his heart to prevent cardiac arrest, Kim said.
Joanne Lee recently won an essay contest sponsored by the Harvard Education Review. Ironically, her piece focused on the Dream Act, a piece of legislation that has been introduced to Congress that would allow youths who enter the country and live there for five years to sponsor themselves for a green card.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community News Group
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