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'Doesn't look very good' for detained husband

Pamela Woldu's bad news — the most recent of it, anyway — arrived Nov. 17 in the form of a letter from the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immunization and Naturalization Services, or INS).

The letter states that Woldu's husband's last good chance for staying in the U.S. has been thwarted. So after living in the U.S. for a decade, marrying an American over a year ago and sitting in an Alabama jail for the past three months, Yared Woldu will likely be shipped back to his native Eritrea.

Had Yared Woldu, whom CL first wrote about in February, "just been able to go to court and plead his case, there's no doubt he would have been allowed to stay," says Pamela, his wife of 18 months and an Atlanta-born U.S. citizen. "It's a legit marriage, but because nobody is even willing to listen, he's going to be deported."

Woldu's first brush with deportation came in January, when he went to the INS office in Atlanta for U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's "special registration" — a program for male visa-holders from more than 20 countries (all of them majority-Muslim except North Korea).

In addition to the routine questioning and fingerprinting, Woldu was locked up for a week and then released — because he'd missed a 1998 INS hearing, according to his attorney, Dahlia French. Woldu had filed an appeal explaining the mix-up, French says. The appeal was pending.

In July, it was denied. In August, Woldu was detained again.

The November letter pretty much seals the deportation, according to French. Immigration attorneys wrote that they're unwilling to ask the court to consider a second appeal based on Woldu's marriage to an American, she says. She claims the attorneys' cooperation is crucial.

French says she has one last option: to convince the court that Woldu will be persecuted if he's returned to the war-torn, east African nation. But chances the court will hear the argument are slim.

"It doesn't look very good for him," Pamela Woldu says. "There's no hope, really."



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