Wednesday, June 16, 2004

AP Wire | 06/15/2004 | Bosnian family gets political asylum after nine years

AP Wire | 06/15/2004 | Bosnian family gets political asylum after nine years

Posted on Tue, Jun. 15, 2004

Bosnian family gets political asylum after nine years

Associated Press

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - After nine years of legal wrangling and uncertainty, a Bosnian family was granted political asylum in the United States Monday.

The Palavras got the word following a meeting with a judge from the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

"Today is a special day," family patriarch Vlado Palavra, 49, said as he celebrated the news with friends and family at their home. "It's my new birthday."

The family came to the U.S. in 1995 to seek medical help for son Danijel, who was legally blind and couldn't find the care he needed in his war-torn homeland.

Palavra, whose family is Catholic, also wanted to get away from the ethnic clashes that often came down to religion, of which the Palavras were a minority.

After obtaining Croatian passports, the family escaped Bosnia and moved to the Kansas City area.

Doctors were eventually able to restore Danijel's sight and he and his older sister, Brankica, enrolled in school. Vlado and his wife, Marina, work at Tension Envelope in Kansas City.

In 2001, immigration officials determined the family should not receive asylum and began the process to deport them to Croatia, where they had never lived.

While many foreign visitors request asylum, very few ever get it, said the family's immigration lawyer, Angela Ferguson of Kansas City.

The family members appealed their case, getting a favorable ruling two years ago from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Thousands of Kansas City residents, including the members of St. Ann's Catholic Church, have signed petitions in favor of the family staying in the country. In addition, political heavyweights, including U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore and U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback have submitted letters of support.

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security, could not be reached for comment.

Ferguson said now that the family has political asylum the Palavras can apply for a green card in a year.

It will still take 12 years before they can apply for citizenship, Ferguson said.


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