_____The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 5, 1994--7
ontinued from page 1.
and in class," Sunny said. "It's ex-
actly the opposite of what I experi-
enced in Korea." There, she said,
,under a Confucianist value system,
the professor is "the king." Here;she
said, the relationship is more equal.
But she also faced disillusionment:
Before arriving, she said, she had ac-
*epted the. image of tolerant,
multicultural diversity painted by her
American friends in Korea, but what
she found was a distinct American
culture uninterested in her very differ-
Most Americans asked her what
kind of music she liked, what her fa-
vorite foods were. Only a few people
ever took the time to ask about her life
in Korea. Only one really listened to
*ler answers: Kevin Roest.
Kevin and Sunny both lived in the
University's Oxford Housing, on
Geddes road.Often, when Sunny would
go to the library to study, she would
find Kevin there, working diligently
on his engineering homework.
They studied, but they also took
time out for long conversations and
over the months, the relationship blos-
*omed into a deep friendship.
Sunny reflected, "It wasn't pas-
sionatelove; it didn't start that way."
Eventually, Kevin asked Sunny to
marry him. At the time, Sunny says
now, she felt lost. Money was running
low, and America, though nice, still
treated her like a stranger. She had to
return to Korea to earn money for
school. She told Kevin to wait.
She spent six months last year in
South Korea teaching English and sav-
ing nioney. All the while, she consid-
ered her American friend's proposal.
"I wanted to marry him, but I tried
to be extra, extra, extracareful," Sunny
She eventually returned to the Uni-
versity and to Kevin. She explained to
him the potential problems she saw in
a relationship like theirs. If he could
put up with them, she said, she would
On Valentines' Day this year, he
gave her an engagement ring.
Tying the knot (with red tape)
Kevin knew that he and his wife-
to-be needed advice. They had heard
of the University's International Cen-
ter, which advises foreign students
and coordinates educational programs
for University students abroad.
This summer, before their wedding,
the young couple met with Interna-
tional Center adviser Jim Montgom-
ery. Among other things, they inquired
about the possibility of Sunny working
and the status of Sunny's student visa
after their wedding.
Kevin and Sunny said they were
told the visa would still be valid after
their wedding, and oncemarried, they
could file papers of petition for perma-
nent residency for Sunny, a precursor
They asked general questions and
got general answers.
Charlene Schmult, an International
Center foreign student adviser, said the
couple was given the answers to the
questions they asked.
"When somebody comes in as a
foreign student, the (immigration) rules
and regulations are so complex, people
are given information on a need-to-
know basis," Schmult said.
Schmult added that the couple never
mentioned they planned to honeymoon
in Canada. That, said Schmult, would
have set off alarms.
Sunny and Kevin were married in
church on Aug. 7 of this year. Sunny's
parents, Il-Sang Kim and Tae-Yong
Kang, flew in from South Korea. At the
reception, guests danced to the sounds
of a big band.
On Aug. 8, the newlyweds em-
barked on a week-long honeymoon in
Ontario. There was no problem enter-
ing Canada that day, but the couple hit
a snag at the American border a week
At the border crossing in Detroit,
the customs official, upon learning that
they were married, denied Sunny en-
try. Unknown to Kevin and Sunny, her
student visa had expired the moment
the two were married.
When Sunny attempted to re-enter
the United States, this fact changed her
status dramatically. In the eyes of INS,
Sunny was no longer only a student. By
getting married, she was effectively
announcing her intention to remain in
the United States permanently.
Immigration officials at the border
gave Kevin papers, which they told
him to file with American officials in
Toronto. The couple drove to Toronto,
where officials told them the papers
must be filed in Detroit. Thus began the
bureaucratic nightmare of establishing
residency for Sunny.
The long road home
The Roests began to pull all the,
strings they could think to pull.
They hired John Semaan, a De-
troit-based immigration lawyer, to
help them file the appropriate papers
properly. They contacted the offices
of U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg,
Michigan's U.S. Sens, Carl Levin and
Don Riegle, and the U.S. Ambassa-
dor to Canada, former Michigan Gov.
Jim Blanchard. Kevin's mother,
Diane, sent a letter to Hillary Rodham
Clinton, appealing for her help.
Mrs. Roestalso contacted Jim Mont-
gomery at the University's Interna-
tional Center and reminded him of the
advice he had given the young couple.
"I thought, theU-Mcan help her; they're
powerful,they're big," said Mrs. Roest,
her voice wavering.
But there's little the University can
do. The decision rests solely in the
hands of the INS, which is bound by a
Byzantine web of federal regulations.
Even the offices of the lawmakers con-
tacted by the Roests acknowledge they
are severely limited.
Rep. Knollenberg's chief of staff,
Paul Welday, said his office has sent
letters to the American consulate in
New York and the INS service center
in Lincoln, Neb., urging haste.
"There are some rules that apply to
this situation, and there's a line they
have to get in," Welday said. "We have
to work within the rules that apply to
The line Sunny is waiting in is a
long one, indeed. On Sept.30, INS sent
Semaan a notice that Sunny's applica-
tion had been received and was being
considered. They informed Semaan that
"it usually take45 to 135 days from the
date of this receipt for us to process this
type of case."
Welday said, "The rules are pretty
clear, but we're going to see this thing
all the way through, and keep the INS
on its timetable."
That would be no small feat. In a
series of articles appearing Sept. 11
through 15,TheNew YorkTimes called
the INS "the most troubled agency in
the federal government."
The Times reported the agency was
"hobbled by understaffing,
underfinancing, conflicting mandates
from Congress and widespread mis-
So Sunny may run out of time.
Upon entering Canada Aug. 8, her visa
was stamped by Canadian customs of-
ficials, but no expiration date was in-
cluded. Under Canadian law, her tem-
porary visa (indicated by the stamp)
will be valid for six months, or until
If Sunny fails to gain entry to the
United States by that date, and if she
cannot get an extension of the tempo-
Sunny Kim Roest's parents, ll-Sang Kim and Tae-Yong Kang, flew in from
South Korea for their daughter's Aug. 7 wedding.
rary visa, Sunny said she faces depor-
tation to South Korea.
"It's going to be right to the wire,"
The Roests say some people have
suggested simply sneaking Sunny back
into Michigan at another crossing, but
the risks are too high.
If caught, immigration officials
could confiscate the car and deport
Sunny to South Korea. After an at-
tempted illegal entry, Sunny would
have little hope of ever entering the
United States again..
Furthermore, INS officials consid-
ering her petition for permanent resi-
dency know that Sunny is supposed to
be in Canada. It became clear to the
Roests that Sunny was not returning
home any time soon.
What went wrong.
In short, the couple crossed inter-
"They didn't know what they didn't
know," Schmult said.
To U.S. citizens, Schmult said, the
U.S.-Canadian border is like crossing
any other river. It's easy to get across
and back, and Americans don't realize
thatin reality, crossing the bordermakes
a huge difference legally.
If Sunny had not left the United
States, Schmult said, she would have
been able to continue studying while
awaiting approval to become a perma-
nent resident. Sunny's problems stem
from simply crossing the border.
Mrs. Roest has become frustrated
with a wide variety of people while
trying to recover her daughter-in-law
But mostly, she said, she has seen
enough of the red tape at INS.
"It's a round circle," Roest said,
"You call Immigration and you get
nothing but recordings."
Kevin agreed. "You can hold for an
officer, but no one ever answers."
The only solution is to be armed
with the appropriate knowledge. Sunny
said, "I think every international stu-
dent is entitled to a comprehensive
guide," explaining what they might
need to know and whatdocuments they
Herhusband agreed. "This is some-
thing that people should know about; it
is kind of unbelievable," Kevin said.
Assigning blame for Sunny's situ-
ation won't bring her home any earlier.
She waits now in Windsor, to see
whether INS works quickly enough to
bring her back to her husband and new
family in South Lyon. In the meantime,
there is little for her to do but wait until
Wednesday, when her husband can
visit her again.
story, they said, not to settle any scores or
speed things along. They said theirgoal is
to forewarn other students who may be
Schmult said while situations like
this occur only occasionally, people
are still stranded all too often. In fact,
Schmult added that, as of about two
weeks ago, "We have another Korean
wife stuck in Windsor."
Schmult urged any student with
questions relating to immigration to
visit the International Center first.
And, the Roests would add, ask
very specific questons.
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