Tonight we have an update on an immigration case that has torn a family apart and captured the attention of KELOLAND.
Bertin Flores Solorzano came to the U.S. illegally as a child. He returned to Mexico to do the right thing and get his visa.
Only it was denied. KELOLAND News first brought you his story last February. At the time, his wife Andrea and their four children, with another on the way, were devastated by the news that their husband and father could not return home to them near Miller.
Now, nearly a year and a half later since that denial, his family is waiting on pins and needles, hoping to finally be able to "Bring Bertin Home.”
Andrea Hargens-Flores is about to board a plane to Mexico on a wing and a prayer, hoping that when she returns her husband Bertin will be with her.
“It's all sorts of emotions put together,” Andrea said.
Andrea is bringing new paperwork with her to add to the loads the couple has already filed in his case.
“I wasn't going to risk it. I was just going to go down there and hand deliver it to him so he had it,” Andrea said.
Bertin was told he would be eligible for a new visa interview a year after his denial. It has now been 16 months.
“It's very frustrating because I was thinking once a year was done, I was thinking we would automatically get called saying you can do your interview, but it took three months, Andrea said.
But now his new interview is days away and Andrea will join her husband to support him through the process in Juarez, Mexico, which has been called "the most dangerous place in the world." She knows there's a chance though that Bertin won't be able to return with her.
“I'm been thinking about that a lot and I just don't want to think about that right now. I just want to be positive and pray that Friday is going to go well; he's going to get his paperwork and I'm going to bring him home next Friday," Andrea said.
As Andrea makes her way to Mexico, the couple's three young children are in the care of Andrea's parents.
“Oh it's been hard on everybody. It’s been hard on the kids, Dale Hargens said.
Especially hard, because recently four-year-old Xavier was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; and Sophia now 8 months old, was born while her father was stuck in Mexico.
“It's been a real tough stretch for her and if we could just get Bertin home it would help her so much," Susan Hargens said.
Andrea has been keeping her parents constantly updated as Bertin's visa interview approaches.
“There were encouraging signs. Monday he had his medical with the doctor and he explained he needed to get back with the three kids and Xavier's diabetes you know, that she needs help and I'll write a letter on your behalf to the agents; so hopefully that is going to help too," Dale said.
Then the Hargens get a call from Andrea who tells them to get the kids ready to FaceTime. Bertin has just completed his visa interview at the U.S. embassy.
“Give us 10 minutes. Well she's not crying anyway. That's a good sign,” Dale said.
Dale Hargens: What's up?
Andrea Hargens: They said he needs his I-601. They don't have it. So they denied him.
Andrea explains that there is one form that is apparently holding up the process.
“Hang in there Bertin,” Susan said.
“We're still not there," Andrea said.
It's not the news the couple hoped to give their children on this day.
“Is he crying?” Xavier asked.
“He's crying because he wants to see you. Your daddy misses you. They miss you," Susan said.
After the couple spent some time reconnecting with their children, I asked about the interview.
“Everybody was very nice. They didn't ask many questions only if I was married; how many babies I had," Bertin said.
Andrea called their immigration attorney in Sioux Falls about the paperwork.
“She's hopeful in a couple of days we'll have an answer to what they want. The way she talked, once they've got that paper, all they have to do is print his visa and they can go home,” Andrea said.
But you can see the entire ordeal has taken its toll on this father.
“I pray to God I see my kids again. I feel like I'm never going to see my daughters and my son. I want to be with my family. I want to hold my babies, kiss my daughters and my son,” Bertin said.
While it's not the news they hoped to hear, the family has no choice but to keep waiting and hoping.
“We'll keep praying honey. You guys be really careful. We love you. Wave bye-bye,” Susan said.
“They need him very badly. When he first went down and couldn't come back, X was crying a lot. He's maybe getting now to the point where he half forgot it. I mean they see him on Facebook all the time. That's not like sitting on dad's lap and having him give you a kiss. You want dad to come back and give you a kiss? Mmm hmm. I thought so,” Dale said.
“These kids need to have their dad and Andrea needs to have her husband,” Susan said.
“I think we can fix this system and it needs to be fixed. One size does not fit all. Splitting up families just isn't the way to go,” Dale said.
Remember that massive folder of paperwork Andrea carried with her on the plane to Mexico. In it are passport forms for the couple's three youngest children, a last resort to keep this family together.
“I just hope it doesn't come to that point where I'm going to have to pick up everything and go somewhere. I mean if he can't come back, I don't know what we're going to do, Andrea said.
Andrea already booked two flights for her and Bertin to return home this Friday. We are waiting to see if the paperwork issue can be straightened out and his visa granted.
Whatever happens we will continue to bring you this family's story as it develops.
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