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Local mother, wife trying to reunite with her family in Texas after immigration issue prevents re-entry into U.S.

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 11:17 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A DREAMer and Aggie who has been a member of the Bryan-College Station community for nearly two decades is now being denied re-entry into the United States after running into problems renewing her visa in Juarez.

Karumi Duran, a 25-year-old mother and wife, came into the country legally with her family when she was 6 years old. They left the country to go back to Mexico in December of 2003 and tried to return home to College Station in January of 2004. Karumi’s family was denied legal entry, but they came back to the U.S. illegally a month later in February.

Since then, Karumi had never left the country until she traveled to the consulate in Ciudad Juarez to renew her immigrant visa at the end of March. Now, her family is torn apart after she received a 10-year ban from returning to the United States because of her illegal re-entry into the country in 2004.

“We went to speak with our lawyer. We were like, ‘Hey, they’re telling us this,’” Roberto Reyes, Karumi’s husband, said. “He was like, ‘You know what, your case, like I’ve told you guys, it’s super easy. You were a minor when you came. You have DACA. You got enrolled in DACA when you were a minor, so there’s no problem for you.”

Both Karumi and Roberto have lived in Bryan-College Station for almost their entire lives. Karumi received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M. After moving to Tyler so Roberto could pursue a career as an architect, she was also hired as a teaching assistant for a fourth-grade class in 2019 before losing that job due to the pandemic. They got married in 2017 and now have a 7-month-old baby named Allison.

“Karumi’s so in love with the baby. I’m so in love with the baby,” Reyes said. “She’s missing out on new teeth. She’s starting to crawl. I think that’s the hardest part.”

Laura Leon is an immigration attorney in Bryan and owns Laura Leon Law, PLLC. She says Karumi faces a real uphill battle because the unlawful entry she made in 2004 was enough to trigger the permanent bar once she left again last month.

“The reality is when someone has triggered the permanent bar, the name says it itself, it’s permanent,” Leon said. “I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but the reality is that the likely chance is that she will not be able to come into the United States until she’s reached that 10 years.”

Leon says Karumi might be able to come back into the United States on what’s called humanitarian parole because she has a daughter who needs the care of her mother, but even that will be a very difficult fight. It’s being away from Allison that Karumi says hurts the most.

“I had her all day with me, and now I don’t have her at all,” Karumi said. “Not having her has been really hard, but we’re just trying to stay strong.”

Although both Karumi and Roberto came from Mexico when they were young, they say America is the only country they truly know. Roberto says the thought of having to start over somewhere else, even in Mexico, is a scary one.

“We’re going to have to start from scratch, and that’s the hardest part, just knowing that we’ve built so much here and we’re going back over there where we have nothing,” Reyes said. “What makes it harder is knowing someone else made this mistake, and we’re having to pay for the consequences. Now she has to do a 10-year ban because something went wrong? I don’t think that’s fair.”

Even if Roberto and Karumi can’t be successful in fixing their situation, they say they want other DREAMers to understand what happened to them so they won’t get caught in the same situation. Roberto says it’s frustrating trying to figure out which lawyers and their legal advice they can trust after doing everything that was asked of them, only to land where they are now.

“Half of the lawyers we spoke to didn’t know about this, half of them did,” Reyes said. “How many other DREAMers are going through the same thing? Some of them don’t have a voice. Some of them don’t have that many family members who can help them.”

“My advice is to treat it like going to a doctor. You always want a second or third opinion, especially if it’s a serious situation,” Leon said. “In this case, we’re talking about someone leaving the country, someone who we don’t know if she’s going to return to the United States. Now that she’s in Mexico, get a second or third opinion, especially with attorneys who have that expertise working with members of Congress.”

Karumi is staying in Mexico City with family until they get an answer to an inquiry filed by their lawyer. They’re hoping the officials at the consulate in Juarez made a mistake. In the meantime, their families are reaching out to Texas members of U.S. Congress to see if they’ll help.

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