On Friday, September 10, 2004, around 10:15 PM, at Terminal “E” at Logan Airport, the heartwarming reunion of a Congolese family took place. The reunion was the result of a large scale community effort to reunite seven children with their parents. The effort began two years ago, when human rights activists, Hubert and Helene Simwerayi, left the war-torn Congo after winning the diversity visa lottery. They had intended to find a place to live in New Hampshire and then immediately arrange for the children to join them. But an obscure bureaucratic provision of the US Diversity Visa Lottery Program stymied their plans and Hubert and Helene unexpectedly found themselves confronting the possibility that their children would not be able to come to the United States for a period of several years.
A series of fortuitous connections, and the good will of many community groups in the State of New Hampshire, eventually put the Simwerayis in touch with Professor Nina Glick-Schiller, an anthropology professor at the University of New Hampshire, a dedicated group of UNH students who call themselves the Committee for Rights and Justice, attorneys Tom Hildreth and Meghan Honea of the McLane Law Firm’s Immigration Law Practice Group, the office of Congressman Jeb Bradley, and his able immigration staffer, Marti Jones, former Governor’s Councilor, and UNH alum Dudley Dudley, Seacoast area “Danny’s Team”, and others, too numerous to mention. The entire community worked together to find a way to bring the family together. Central to the success of the effort were the applications for humanitarian parole for each of the seven children. As parolees, the children were permitted to the enter the United States to be with their parents while the Citizenship and Immigration Services completes processing the applications that will ultimately give the children the same green card status as their parents.
The heart-warming reunion garnered considerable media attention, including coverage on the BBC’s “The World” program. The the full BBC report, including Tom Hildreth’s interview, can be heard here.
Tom Hildreth is a director for the McLane Law Firm who practices in the corporate, real estate and international law areas, with particular emphasis on immigration law. Tom can be reached at (603) 628-1177 or by e-mail at [email protected]. The McLane Law Firm is the largest full-service law firm in the state of New Hampshire, with offices in Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth.