NEW MADRID - Tommy Kimball's wife and son may no longer be in the United States, but he doesn't intend to quit fighting for them.
Kimball said he would like to see changes made in the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services making them more responsive to citizens and those who wish to become citizens.
"The public are the only ones that can bring about change," he said. "They can call their congressmen and ask for laws to be made. They can ask for an investigation into how the office is being run. Each case should be looked at for what it is, there isn't a blanket to cover all the cases."
Karen Kimball, in an e-mail from Australia, is spending part of her time going over what happened to her as well. So many of the problems, she said, were because officials did not inform her of the steps available.
"We could have left the country voluntarily and then gone ahead with the other paperwork required so that we could be reunited in the near future. Instead of that we now have to fight to get permission for us to even return as a visitor. Let alone be allowed to apply to become an American citizen," said Mrs. Kimball.
She explained that after first taken into custody, she was told she had to sign a form. Her choices included leaving the country voluntarily or having a judge hear her case. She chose the latter.
Only long after she signed seeking an appeal, was she informed that she would not be allowed to see a hearing official. "The frustrating and hurtful thing about that was that if I had chosen to voluntarily leave the country, I would never had received the 10-year-ban from returning to the county," Mrs. Kimball noted.
And she misses her adopted home. "In the two years I was living in USA I was made to feel like a major part of the community we lived in. Our family was a strong loving, God-fearing unit but those things are considered unimportant in the scheme of things as far as INS is concerned," she wrote.
Mrs. Kimball added she understands the need to screen those coming into the country, yet she still is unable to understand why they could not have looked at her case and their efforts to follow the law.
Both the Kimballs emphasize there was never any attempt to subvert any laws.
Kimball added he has learned a lot from the experience. Now he knows there is such a thing as a fiancee visa. Although he contacted INS prior to her coming here about the proper forms needed, he was never told about this, he said.
Once arrived, he would recommend the alien report to the immigration office in their district just to ensure all the papers are in order, then get married. After that there are papers to complete, petitions to file and forms to fill out. Everything should be certified and, if the papers are to be mailed, Kimball said don't make the mistake they made. All documents should be sent registered certified mail.
Also he said he would hire an attorney versed in immigration laws to guide them through the process.
He may have to put those steps into use. Now he is looking at where he could immigrate in order to be with his wife. Mrs. Kimball hopes he will come to Australia yet understands the sacrifice it will mean.
To join them in Australia, he will have to forgo all their daily contact with his family in the U.S., she said. "This whole situation breaks our hearts as we strive to be together once again as a happy loving family."