After 35 years, Pinay still waiting to immigrate to US
PROVO, Utah – The Sigua Family gets together every Sunday. But not everyone is able to attend. For 35 years, 66-year-old Corazon Espinosa has been kept from her loved ones in Utah by a complicated legal immigration process.
'We feel like we’re missing out on Cora, and she’s missing out on us," said Espinosa’s sister, Celeste Galbraith.
Due to errors, strict rules and denied waivers, Espinosa resides in Sydney, Australia, about 8,000 miles away from her family.
She began trying to immigrate to the United States in 1978. Her first application, submitted by her mother when Espinosa was still single, was voided after she got married. The second petition, filed for a married child, was lost by immigration officials. And a third fell through because Espinosa’s mother, the sponsor of the application, passed away.
"Here we are trying to do everything we can legally, and we aren't getting anywhere," Galbraith said.
Officials now tell Espinosa that the best way for her to join her family is to start the process over with a new sibling sponsor – something that could take 23 more years.
Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who has been trying to help Espinosa, said that the Filipina’s experience proves that the nation’s legal immigration system is broken.
In an email to Balitang America, Chaffetz wrote: “Corazon Espinosa’s case is a perfect example of what is wrong with our current system. No one should have to wait 35 years for an answer only to be told they now have to go to the back of the line.”
The congressman has asked US Citizenship and Immigration Services to reconsider Espinosa’s petition for Humanitarian Reinstatement, which is ongoing. In the meantime, he’s also preparing a private relief bill that, if passed, would give Espinosa a permanent residency visa.
“It would be a big hallelujah,” Galbraith said. “It would be a very happy occasion for our family.”