Valley Veteran Waiting to be Reunited with Family after Voluntary Deportation
HARLINGEN – A Rio Grande Valley veteran is asking for help reuniting his family.
Robert Grandstaff said he’s waited to hear from the government about his wife’s immigration status for a year and a half. He's in the U.S. but his wife is in Mexico.
The couple waited 20 months to hear from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The disabled veteran said nights are no better for him since his service.
"The things you do in Iraq are so traumatic to you, you repeat them every night,” said Grandstaff. "There is no meaning to life anymore after the service except your family."
The father of three said his first marriage ended a few years ago. One day, Daniela Quiroga, walked into his life.
"I still remember it so vividly. I actually remember that, because this gorgeous beautiful woman came through the door," said Grandstaff.
Quiroga, a Mexican citizen, was in the U.S. on a B1/B2 tourist visa.
Grandstaff said they became engaged soon after. At some point, she went back to Mexico to take care of a vehicle registration.
Quiroga told CHANNEL 5 NEWS, "On the way back, the problem was that the car had several months in the U.S. without having moved it, and that day it crossed (the bridge) twice."
When she crossed the international bridge to return, Quiroga learned she had overstayed her visa. She signed a voluntary deportation form and was returned to Mexico with a five-year ban from the U.S.
The couple married in 2015 at the Hidalgo International Bridge and the children were sent to live with her.
Quiroga said she filed a form with USCIS requesting a green card. The ban required her to also file an I-212 Form.
Her application was filed on Feb. 2016. Twenty months later, the couple said they’re still waiting.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS asked the USCIS office in Harlingen why it's taken so long. They told us they can't discuss cases due to privacy concerns.
The agency’s website said they're processing applications from September of 2016. We contacted them late September this year.
Immigration attorney Leonel Perez said no deadline exists for when the USCIS must respond. He said that's why it's taken so long and gave some recommendations.
"Outline all the problems they're going through, and send it to the district director in Harlingen and I'm sure they're going to get a good result,” he said.
A few days after our inquiries, Grandstaff said USCIS reached out to him. They told him they approved the I-212 Form.
"I would just like for them to allow her to come home,” he said.
Grandstaff also reached out to three lawmakers: U.S. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
We contacted their offices. All three tell us they have received his letter and are working with him to help resolve the situation.