Humanitarian visa to allow reunion for soldier's family

December 17, 2010 (CHICAGO) Army Specialist Hector Nunez has been separated from his wife and child since June, when they went to Mexico and were barred from returning to the United States.

Nunez's wife is undocumented. He says she went to Mexico to begin the process of achieving resident status in the U.S.

Nunez is now trying to get to Mexico as soon as possible.

The soldier was facing a one-year deployment to Afghanistan, but before he deployed, he and his wife wanted to make sure she became a legal resident.

He says a lawyer advised her to return to Mexico six months ago.

She did, and she and her son have been there ever since.

Nunez says it is hard for him to believe his wife, Rosa, and 2-year-old son, Jason, may no longer be stuck in Mexico and may return to Hanover Park before Christmas.

"It's probably the best Christmas present anybody can get," said Nunez. "Family is a better present than anything else.

Nunez, who's part of a combat engineer unit based in Darien, was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in August.

He says his wife, who has lived in Chicago most of her life, went to Mexico for a visa interview to clear up her immigration status before his deployment.

To the couple's surprise, she was barred from returning to the U.S. for ten years.

"I feel like the nightmare is still there until she actually comes home, and then I feel like the nightmare will finally be over," said Nunez.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a strong proponent of immigration rights, fought for the humanitarian visa.

"For us, this was clearly such an injustice, such an unfair situation, that Specialist Nunez who was being ordered to the front in Afghanistan, where he is going to put his life at risk for this nation, has his wife trapped in Mexico," said Gutierrez.

Nunez broke the news to his wife.

"She cheered and yelled for happiness, and cried at the same time for joy," said Nunez.

Nunez says he's leaning on relatives for money to buy all plane tickets that he and his family need right now.

His wife and son are in Guadalajara, so he says he is trying to fly there as soon as possible.

From there, they need to get to Mexico City on Monday, and then the three of them hope to fly straight to O'Hare.

"There's a lot of months we missed out on each other - on our son and everything," said Nunez. "We have a lot of catching up to do."

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