One of my immigration offices is in Danbury, CT which is
located right next to Newtown. Our
Danbury Hospital accepted the victims from the Newtown tragedy, and we have all
been immensely affected by the horror that occurred in our neighboring town.
I started representing individuals and families in US
immigration matters in the 1980s. In
those early days, I represented a family which I have come to call my
“Christmas Story”. The names, places, and
some details have been altered, but this rendition is based on true stories. I decided to recount this story in tribute to
Newtown, and the healing power of love that exists around the world.
Many years ago, a young man and woman knocked on the door of
my office. The man tentatively shook my
hand, and the young woman bowed slightly, diverting her eyes. They asked for my help.
The young woman, whom I will call Mira, was brought to the
US by a foreign family who were working and living in the US temporarily. She was brought here legally, to be the nanny
for their children. The family locked
her in the basement of their home in the southern part of the United
States. She worked 7 days each week, was
given no spending money, worked from 6:00 AM until after 9:00 PM, with no time
off, and very little food. She became
sick and pleaded with them to get medical treatment for her, but the family
refused and locked her back in the basement.
Mira was able to climb out of one of the basement windows in
the middle of the night and ran to the house next door. She spoke no English, and when the father of
the family next door opened his door, he could not understand her at all. But, he could see that she was sick, and she
held a small piece of paper in her hands, with a name and telephone number on
it. Without words, the kind neighbor was
able to understand, and dialed the telephone number on the paper. A young woman in Newtown, CT, whom I shall
call Grace, answered the telephone, and the man explained about the young woman
on his doorstep. Grace gasped, and explained that this was her sister Mira,
standing on his stoop, and that Grace had been searching for Mira for
months. The neighbor explained that he
had never even seen Mira before this night.
Grace said that she would send money for Mira to take a
plane to Connecticut, if the man would house Mira until the money arrived by
Western Union. The man agreed, and put Mira
on a plane to Connecticut the next day.
Grace ran outside to her car the next morning, eager to get
on her way to the airport to embrace her sister. She stopped at her coffee shop before making
the drive. The young man who worked at
the coffee shop had seen Grace many times, but this morning was the first
morning that he was able to summon his nerve to ask her out. Grace was caught completely by surprise, and
blurted out, “I’m married!” She suddenly
saw the embarrassed look on the young man’s face, and not wanting to hurt his
feelings, she added, “But I’m on my way to the airport to pick up my
sister. Perhaps you’d like to meet her?”
The young man’s face lit up.
On the way to the airport, Grace wondered why she had ever
offered her sister. She had to be
crazy. But she hadn’t been able to stop
herself from blurting this out.
When she saw her sister come down the hallway from the
planes, Grace was shocked. Mira was
thin, had sores and blisters on her face and gums, and was much sicker than she
had thought. Mira’s eyes were red from
crying. Grace drove straight to their
doctor’s office on her way home from the airport. Mira was malnourished, vitamin deficient, and
Over the next few weeks, Grace nursed Mira back to
health. With time, Grace could see that
Mira was starting to be ready to go outside, so one day; Grace suggested that
they take a ride together. Without thinking,
Grace stopped for coffee at the local shop, as was her habit. As soon as she saw the young man, she
remembered her offer. She glanced over
at Mira, who was shyly looking at the baked goods at the counter.
“This is my sister, Mira,” offered Grace, to the smiling
young man. “But, she doesn’t speak any
“That’s OK, I got a dictionary,” smiled Gary. He proudly grabbed a bi-lingual dictionary
from under the counter. He had been
keeping it there since he had last seen Grace.
Grace explained to Mira, who looked scared at first, but the
young man seemed so nice, and eager, that she agreed to meet for a cup of
Their first date was with the dictionary between them, and
they laughed together at their pronunciation of each other’s language. It was the first time that Mira could
Many months later, Gary picked up Mira at her house, and
asked her to marry him.
Mira burst out in tears.
In her broken English, she told him that she had not been honest with
him. Many years ago, she had had a baby
in her country. She had never been
married and it was tabu for an unmarried woman to have a baby. Her son had been living with a religious
order back in her country.
Gary looked at Mira, smiled, and said, “Your son will be my
son.” They were married shortly
My staff and I worked hard and long to make Mira legal in
the US. The day that Mira finally become
a legal permanent resident, everyone hugged and smiled. Then, we started working on bringing her son
to the US.
Much time went by during which we dealt with the Immigration
Service inside the US and with the US Consulate overseas where her son was
Christmas Eve arrived, and my staff was packing up the
office, to leave for the holiday. There
was a tentative knock on the office door, and a small boy walked in, carrying a
poinsettia in his hands. He bowed, and held out the poinsettia to me. My staff and I stared at him. No one recognized him.
Suddenly, from just outside the door, Mira and Gary peeked
around the corner with tears in their eyes.
Mira’s son had arrived in the US on Christmas Eve and the family was
finally reunited. There was not a dry
eye in the office.
Today, that young man is a US citizen, with a wife and
family of his own. Mira and Gary are
still happily married with more children and grandchildren of their own. They own several shops and employ over 20 US