Gunther and Elena were married in 2001. Gunther is retired US citizen. He worked as a factory and health care worker in Cleveland. Elena, a non-citizen, worked in health care and as private nurse in the Cleveland area. They lived in Gunther's Mayfield Village home for eight years.
One day Elena had a surprise when she went to the Cleveland office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to renew her work permit. She was arrested in September, 2005, because her U.S. visitor visa had expired. Elena's legal visitor status had lapsed during her first marriage with an abusive spouse. When she married Gunther, he petitioned for her but was denied by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
When Elena was arrested, Gunther, hired a second immigration attorney. Gunther also called the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network. I drove him to his first meeting with the attorney, because he was so upset that he could not drive his car. It was too late to save her from deportation. She was deported in October 2005 and barred from re-entering the US for ten years.
She was deported to Moscow, Russia. Her final destination was her native country, Ukraine, where her ailing mother lives. Elena is a talented health care worker and artist but there is no job for her in Ukraine. Gunther retired in 2003 and lives on his social security payments; hardly enough money to send much help to Elena. The couple had hoped to find a sponsor in Canada, where Elena could be closer to her husband and work, until she could legally return home to Mayfield Village. Elena sent this email, in May 2006 to the Immigrant Support Network to explain her talents and work experience:
I am an art therapist, or an activity pearson in nurcing facility or hospital/ I have great experiance working with sick people who got stroke, aids, got different amputations, depressed, got alzheimers desease. I also have an experiance to work with hospise patience [patients], I also did a lot of art resoration /old paintings,/ in my past, also I got qualification in theraputic massuse [masseuse]. At this time I am steing [staying] with my friends in Moscow, because now they checking my identification because I need a new passport its drives me insain. thank you don for everything you doing for me and gunther, because if i can go to Canada i can be close to my husbend. thank you a lot don,i was very popular art therapist in meridia south point, i am very good and patient with sick and disable people and i know such professions are on demend in us because not everyone wants to be arround sick people all the time, but i have no problem and got great satisfaction to make sick people to forget they problems even for a few hours, i am missng communication with patients now, its wos a part of my life like everything else Now I have no job and my mother dieng from cancer Elena Smolej
GCISN, attempted to find a Canadian sponsor, until the situation changed with her mother's sickness. Now Elena has a sponsor and job opportunity in Spain where she can earn a decent wage so that she will afford to get her mother required medical care and provide some semblance of normalcy for both of them. She needs $500 in fees for travel documents to allow her to work in Spain. Her family can pay half of that. Gunther would love to send the $250 amount if he had it, but living on a fixed income leaves him powerless to help. Please take a moment to consider volunteering with GCISN or to make a tax-deductible contribution to help Elena. Make your check payable to the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network (GCISN), write "Elena" in the memo line and mail to World People Exchange, 4323 Clark Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44109, or drop in Sunday for doughnuts or visit www.WeAreAllImmigrants.blogspot.com, using the Paypal button you can make your contribution. Please call 216-631-2233 ext. 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.