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An Internet Thanksgiving


Celebrations are in order at the Smith house, Please do not adjust your mind, abnormality will be resumed shortly.

Last July, after nearly five years of sending large chunks of money and jumping through innumerable red tape hoops in an effort to get my husband (and Crescent Blues webmaster) S.J. Smith a permanent resident alien visa, we got a letter from the U.S.C.I.S. stating that my hubby's application had been -- DENIED!

The letter angered and terrified us. The letter stated that S.J. should ready himself for deportation. And then we read the reason for denial: failure to turn in a specific form. Our anger turned to rage. Not only had we turned in that specific form (and the money the government demanded be sent with it) but we sent it in a registered letter. To add insult to injury, the U.S.C.I.S. person we contacted informed us that sending documents via registered mail to one of their centers didn't mean a thing -- after all, we could've just sent an empty envelope. When we offered to bring the document to the nearest office in person, the functionary told us forms could only be sent by mail. Talk about your Catch-22 situations!

Fortunately, we found someone who told us what to do to prevent S.J. from being immediately deported: submit a Motion to Re-Open. They also advised getting our local congressional representative involved if possible. So we sent off the Motion and the money the government demanded for the missing form. We contacted Congressman James Moran's office and asked if they could help. We took copies of all our paperwork to Moran's office. His aide told us they'd do what they could -- but it would take time. Possibly another year. Maybe two.

And then I contacted my virtual friends.

On various email lists that I belong to and on my personal Live Journal I sent out a call for help. I explained everything that S.J. and I endured to that point. Then I asked my friends list/email list to write Congressman Moran's office too, protesting S.J.'s denial of application.

The word went out. Folks cross-posted my email and linked to my LJ. Letters started arriving at Moran's office. From Texas, California, Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Georgia. Letters also arrived from Sweden, Germany, England and New Zealand. They came from all over the U.S. and from several countries overseas. Only four days after my plea for help hit the Internet, Congressman's Moran's office called and asked us (rather plaintively) if we would please ask people to stop sending them letters. They were becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of mail.

On November 1, we received a letter in the mail from the U.S.C.I.S. -- stating that Stephen J. Smith's application for a permanent resident alien visa had been GRANTED. My husband danced a jig waving the official paper in the air. I cried tears of joy and relief.

I turned to my virtual community for help and they responded in spades. Even folks I never met online stepped up to the plate and sent out a letter simply because someone asked them to help a friend. The depth and breadth of commitment and friendship that exploded from my one small call for help humbles and awes me.

So in this month of Thanksgiving, I want to send out my own very personal thanks to each and every person who took the time to write a letter, send an email, or pick up their phone and make a call to help my husband. I sincerely doubt we'd have made it this far without those letters, emails and phone calls. Your generosity and caring turned the tide and made our fondest dream come true. And we love you for it.

Teri Smith

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