A Mexican man told The Associated Press that the United States has barred him from entering the country to attend the funeral of his family members, including his son, who died in a Pennsylvania home this past week.
“Fidel” Merlos-Lopez is trying to attend the funeral services for his 10-year-old son Damien Lopez on Monday after the boy, along with his cousin, aunt and 7-month-old half-brother, died in a fire last week in the town of Shenandoah.
But U.S. Customs and Border Protection have denied Fidel Lopez entrance into the country after he was asked by immigration authorities to leave the country voluntarily in 2007 after running a red light.
Lopez, 34, arrived in the country illegally in 1995 in Shenandoah and married a U.S. citizen, who gave birth to his son in 2002. Lopez divorced and later married another U.S. citizen.
“I told the customs officer that all I want is a permit to see my boy for one last time," Lopez told The Associated Press. "They treat me as if I am a criminal."
Lopez's lawyer, Elizabeth Surin, indicated that her client was on his way to getting a green card before the tragic incident occurred.
"He’s trying to comply, trying to follow the rules of U.S. immigration law, but they are using that against him now," Surin said. "This whole thing is really heart-wrenching. ”
Lopez is still hoping for a last minute grant of humanitarian parole, allowing immigrants an emergency entry into the United States. Only a quarter of the 1,200 applicants are approved each year by the government.
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