To the Editor:
Thank you to the New Richmond News for the story about the Francis family and their struggle with legal immigration.
Thank you to the parishioners of St. Anne's Church in Somerset, for their overwhelming support. Thanks also to our family, friends and concerned neighbors who have contacted Senators Kohl and Feingold, and Representative Kind to try to help get this situation rectified.
The Francis family has done everything right, filed all of the paperwork, paid all of the immense fees and cleared all of the hurdles for a legal immigration. The prognosis for Naseem, if Pakistan fails, the Taliban advance and the U.S. Embassy closes is dire. We understand acutely the severe implications of our grandchildren's "other" grandmother living in a Taliban-controlled country. The ever deteriorating conditions in Pakistan are troubling. She is a Christian grandmother, no threat to the U.S., who is trapped in U.S. bureaucracy.
In 1998 we moved to Pakistan to teach at the International School of Islamabad. Our daughter, Jessica, (NRHS '97) was a Carleton College student at the time, and spent a semester abroad, living with us in Islamabad. While there she met Bernard Francis, who worked at the American Embassy. They were married in 2001 and our families became one.
Pakistan is a male-dominated society. Naseem's four male sons and husband all live outside of Pakistan. She has no close familial males living in Pakistan to protect her.
The Taliban is now working to increase their territory in Pakistan and are dangerously close to Islamabad and its nearby city where Naseem lives.
On April 21, a group of Taliban raided a Christian village near Karachi, Pakistan. These men dragged women through the street by their hair. Assaulted dozens and executed two people. As a Christian woman living a a household with no men in it, Naseem is in very real danger as she waits month after month for the U.S. to compete its processing of her case.
Naseem has been a traditional Pakistani mom to five children, all of whom were educated by Catholic nuns and all earned college degrees.
Saleem Francis, Naseem's husband, has an MBA in business, and worked for 35 years for the international arm of Catholic Charities, most recently in Peshawar, Pakistan. These are the very type of immigrants that our country needs. He has devoted his life to helping those in need. He needs our help now.
Our immigration system is broken. People trying to follow the laws and rules face roadblocks. Naseem could have "overstayed" her visa and stayed here illegally. Instead, she chose to do the right thing and immigrate legally. Look where that got her.
Please contact Sen. Kohl's office if you are so moved. They are the lead agency dealing with this issue.
Peggy and Will Grubbs