John and Joan Nkata are like any other hard-working immigrant family. After arriving here legally from Malawi on an education visa in 1990 with their then-11 month old and 4 year old daughters, Dominique and Tapiwa, the Nkata’s were finally issued permanent resident status in 2009. The Nkata’s successfully argued that their deportation would cause extreme hardship to their third daughter, Maria, a US citizen who was born in Cincinnati’s Good Samaritan Hospital.
The glitch? Since their two elder daughters, Tapiwa, age 25, and Dominique, age 21, don’t have a “qualifying relative,” the judge refuses to address their claims for legal permanent status. Another judge apparently wasn’t convinced that their deportation would cause hardship to the rest of the family.
Say what? Mark Carnutte of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
Another immigration judge ruled two weeks ago that the deportation of Tapiwa and Dominique would not, in the words of federal immigration law adopted in 1996, “result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the alien’s spouse, parent or child who is a citizen of the United States or alien legally admitted for permanent residence.”
The judge ruled the older sisters do not contribute financially to the household.
The same article also reports that these two girls meet all the conditions for those eligible for permanent resident status: they’ve lived continually in the country for 10 years, have no criminal record, and are of good moral character. Both girls have never visited their native country, which happens to be one of the poorest countries in Africa. They are also stellar students. Dominique and Tapiwa graduated with honors from Walnut Hills High School. Tapiwa graduated summa cum laude from the University of Cincinnati, with a degree in finance. Dominique is currently studying chemistry, and has a heart condition that requires careful monitoring and follow-up for the rest of her life. If not deported, these girls may possibly have another chance through the DREAM Act, which would allow a path towards citizenship for those who were brought to the United States by their parents at a young age.
“Somehow, deporting my daughters is not seen as extreme hardship on their parents, let alone their 13-year-old sister,” said Joan Nkata, 47, who works full time in the accounting department of Hydrotech Inc. in West Chester.