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Family navigates immigration system as elderly father suffers from COVID-19

Rebeca Ontiveros-Chávez, a Staff Attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), recently had the privilege of helping a daughter navigate the complexities of our immigration system while her elderly father was suffering from COVID-19.

The elderly man’s daughter contacted MIRC for assistance in obtaining proof of her father’s status as a legal permanent resident so that he could receive Medicaid and all the medical care and services that he needed. The father was living in a nursing home as a result of a stroke that left him unable to communicate or care for his needs on his own. MIRC filed an application to replace his Permanent Residency Card at the outset of the pandemic. Subsequently, the offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) closed to the public, thus limiting access to the officers who take the digital fingerprints and photos for the required background check. 

Rebeca Ontiveros-Chávez

Unfortunately, the father soon contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital, discharged, and re-admitted due to complications as a result of the coronavirus. While he was in and out of the hospital, MIRC responded to requests from USCIS for passport-style photos, a copy of government-issued ID, and a local police clearance letter or state-issued criminal background check. MIRC quickly responded to the request with the necessary items, but was initially unable to submit the passport photos given that the father was on a ventilator and in the hospital. When the father was briefly discharged, the daughter was able to obtain passport-style photos and MIRC submitted those to USCIS. 

Given the dire circumstances, MIRC also contacted Senator Stabenow’s office for assistance in expediting the decision in this case and requested an emergency appointment with USCIS to obtain temporary proof of the man’s status as a Legal Permanent Resident. USCIS granted the request and approved the application to replace the expired legal permanent resident card that same day.

Now that the father has proof of his status as a Legal Permanent Resident, his daughter can submit necessary paperwork to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and he can receive the full care and services he needs for treatment and recovery from COVID-19. MIRC was honored that our staff member Rebeca was able to assist this family in its greatest time of need. We worry there may be other families in similar situations suffering in silence and encourage anyone who needs immigration assistance to contact our office by calling (734) 239-6863. We send our best wishes to all those recovering from this dangerous virus and give our deepest condolences to the families mourning the many lives lost.



Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/07/20 23:12:44 -0700.




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