Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, March 26, 2004
Hung, wife reunited after nine-month ordeal
By ROSIE FLORES
Pecos businessman and active member in the community is overjoyed to have his wife back in Pecos, after a nine-month battle with U.S. Immigration officials.
Professional Pharmacy and American Home Health owner Leo Hong’s nightmare began last summer, three years after he and his wife Minnie, were married and only a few months after she had given birth to the couple’s twin sons.
Minnie Hung came back home two days ago and is happy and thrilled to have her family together, after being separated from her husband since July.
She is from the Philippines and was in Pecos on a visiting visa at the time she and Leo married. After the wedding, they applied for a permanent residency for Minnie and the paperwork was completed in July.
“And since then we had been waiting for the INS-National Visa Center to contact us,” said Hung “For the application for a permanent residency it can take up to 16 months.”
What the couple didn’t know was that they were supposed to have converted the visiting visa to a spousal visa or fiancé visa.
“We didn’t know that we needed to have converted that visa,” said Hung.
In July of last year, the couple was told that the permanent visa was approved and that Mrs. Hung had to go to the embassy in the Philippines for an interview, or to the regional INS office in El Paso.
“We didn’t want to delay the paperwork any longer, because if she went to El Paso, it would take longer,” said Hung. “So, we decided she should go to the embassy.”
However, once Minnie arrived in the Philippines and visited the embassy there, she was told she would not be allowed to come back into the United States.
“They told her that if you have an expired visa, you are barred from coming back into the U.S. from 3-10 years, depending on how long the visa had been expired,” said Hung.
“We thought since the permanent visa had been approved, we didn’t need to contact the visiting visa personnel,” said Hung.
Hung said that the two offices don’t have anything to do with each other.
“The visiting visa personnel is different from the permanent visa,” said Hung.
“Since she was deported voluntarily, she was eligible for a waiver,” he said. “Once it is granted, she may re-enter the U.S.,” he said.
The waiver consists of different criteria and includes a large category of people, according to Hung.
“There is a backlog of people wanting to be approved for a waiver,” he said.
“When we told them that she had already applied for a permanent visa, and that we didn’t know that the visiting visa had expired and needed to be renewed, they told us they didn’t have any obligation Hung said his wife traveled alone for her interview in the Philippines.
“I thought it would be something simple, so we didn’t go with her,” said Hung, talking about his twin boys. “After a month, the kids were crying for her, so I took them to her and I stayed here to take care of business.”
In the ensuing months, Hung traveled to the Philippines to visit his wife and children, but it is not the same as having them here with him.
“She was really scared, she said that she felt like she was in prison,” said Hung. “And then they told her she might not be able to come back and could be barred for 10 years.”
Hung said while he is happy to have his wife and children back in Pecos, family members in the Philippines are crying for the two boys, who had been there for the past seven months with their mother. “My mother-in-law lives there and she really misses them already,” said Hung. “And they were used to the Philippines and want to go back there.”
Hung said that his wife is busy settling in and that the family is planning a reunion/reception to welcome them home.
“I just want to thank everyone and let them know that I have my family home now,” he said, smiling broadly.
“Special thanks to all our colleagues for being patient and supportive,” said Hung. “I’ve haven’t really been able to truly concentrate these past few months.
“We really learned a lesson though and I hope everyone who has problems like this knows that there are non-profit organizations out there that can help them,” said Hung.
“But people need to realize that the visiting visa and permanent visa are two separate deals,” he said. “Expired visas can haunt you, even years later.”
Council eyes insurance suit, discusses Main Street plans
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
The Town of Pecos City Council again took no action after an executive session to discuss the duties of the water superintendent, but did order the city attorney to pursue possible litigation over an insurance claim, following the executive session during their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night at City Hall.
Council members have already met four times in executive session to discuss issues with the duties of the water superintendent, without action. The results were no different on Thursday, as the council did not act on the duties of the water superintendent after returning to open session.
However, the council did instruct City Attorney Scott Johnson to “pursue litigation regarding Brenda Fuentes’ medical expenses.” No other details on the cause of the litigation were released by the council
In other business, the council approved the second reading of the blight control ordinance drawn up by the Main Street Program board, pertaining to the downtown historical district.
The ordinance restricts the types of businesses that may come into the district to those “that contribute to the comprehensive economic development plan and the arts, culture and entertainment designation of Pecos Main Street.”
The ordinance goes on to restrict alcohol retail premises from having nude or partially nude entertainment, from promoting a high consumption of alcohol as the focus of their business and from failing to “add to the diversity of retail establishments.”
The council also approved the sale of multiple properties within the historical district that had been tabled until the ordinance could be passed.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Main Street Director Tom Rivera, addressed the council to remind them that preparations were still underway for Tuesday’s visit to Pecos by Texas First Lady Anita Perry as part of the official entry of Pecos into the Main Street program.
“We will be having a clean up on Saturday for the street itself, and we would like to invite anyone interested in helping to come on down and bring a broom,” Rivera said. He added that the group will be having a dry run for the entertainment for Tuesday’s celebration, at 6 p.m. today.
The council then approved the accounts payable for the month. However, Councilman Frank Sanchez asked City Financial Director Sam Contreras whether the city’s cell phone bills had been consolidated yet into one larger plan.
“Carlos Yerena (former city manager) initiated the consolidation of our phone plans, but left before it could be completed. City manager Torres and I have spoken with the cell phone providers in the area and we are hoping to have all the plans consolidated into a large “pool” type of plan, where everyone will share minutes,” Contreras said. “The problem in the past is that we have had a few individuals go over in their minutes, and that has caused the larger bills.”
Councilman Danny Rodriguez added that the situation had arisen before where a cell phone provider’s tower had gone out and many of the municipal employees lost communication with each other. Rodriguez then asked Contreras to look into keeping two providers for the department heads to allow for communication in an emergency.
In other business, the approved a grant application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for a $500,000 grant for the rehabilitation of existing housing that “are in violation of City ordinances and create an unsafe living environment for its inhabitants.”
The council also approved two TX-DOT request for construction work within city limits. The first project is the removal of railroad tracks on SH 17 and FM 761 as part of a beautification project, and the second permission request was for the reduction in the speed limit on four miles of I-20 located within city limits for the safety of TX-DOT crews as they resurface the highway later this year.
Board approves Love’s decision on retirement
By ROSIE FLORES
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Board members approved the retirement of superintendent Don Love following an executive session Thursday night, and approved using the Texas Association of School Boards’ consultant service to assist in the search process for a new superintendent.
Love’s retirement and the voluntary retirement agreement were approved during a closed door meeting held last evening at the Technology Center, a week after the item was first discussed by the board.
Board members met in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Love, who was appointed P-B-T Superintendent in December of 1997, will retire from the job effective June 30. He had previously served as principal at Zavala Middle School, assistant principal at Pecos High School and an assistant baseball and football coach and teacher at the high school and other schools in the P-B-T ISD.
During his time as superintendent, the district built up a large surplus fund balance, and undertook major renovations to campus buildings, including refurbishing of the 50-year-oldd Pecos High School main building. At last week’s meeting the board approved construction of a new gym for Austin Elementary School, along with the installation of artificial turf and track repairs at Eagle Stadium at a combined cost of just under $1 million.
Neither Love nor school board members discussed the reasons for Love’s retirement during the open portion of Thursday’s meeting.
Supporters were on hand and P-B-T coach Robin Land read out a letter in support of Love, urging him to reconsider his retirement and to stay on as the district’s superintendent. Her comments were made before the group went into closed session.
“Thank you for all you have done. You have had to make some tough decisions and we appreciate you for that. I know if it wasn’t for the pay you wouldn’t be here,” she said. “Today you are faced with another decision. When you took your oath, you swore to do what is best for the district. We need to put our personal feelings aside.
“School districts across the state are currently experiencing a financial crisis, coupled with low student achievement due to a lack of leadership and administrative vision. We, the employees of Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD have enjoyed 16 years of educational success and financial stability under the guidance and support of our superintendent.
“Mr. Don Love has afforded us the professional security and peace of mind we need and would like you, our elected representatives, to take this into consideration when discussing his possible retirement. Mr. Love’s outstanding leadership and dedication to our district is truly priceless. School employees were given the opportunity to read this support letter for Mr. Love and all signatures are voluntary. My question to you is, “Can we afford to let our superintendent leave?”
The district has used TASB assistance in the past in hiring superintendents. No timetable has been announced for the selection of Love’s replacement.
Board members also approved the appointment of Craig Jackson, as Pecos High School History teacher/coach for the 2004-2005 school year.
County Democrats holding convention
The Reeves County Democratic Party will hold its County Convention at 10 a.m ., Saturday at the Reeves County Courthouse.
Delegates to the State Convention in Houston will be elected. Any Democrat who voted in the primary is eligible to attend.
Marriages for February 2004, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office.
Ruben Munoz Salas and Maria Patricia Aguirre.
Arturo Estorga Chavez and Yolanda Eva Aguirre.
David Erasmo Argumaniz II and Mary Margaret Gonzales.
David Maldonado and Amanda Renee Hernandez.
Gregorio Saenz Barrera and Lucia Mata Aguilar.
Theodore Eugene Woodruff and Dora Contreras Machuca.
Oscar V. Gonzales and Rosario Anchondo Arenivas.
Abel Aguilar Zuniga and Cristina C. Benavides.
Christopher Ryan Morgan and Monika Villalobos.
Pedro Luis Cano and Elva Florez.
Rodrigo Reyes Torres and Valerie Fuentes.
Jimmy C. Bradley and Cindy Carol Bagley.
Divorces for February 2004, as filed with the Reeves County District Clerk’s Office.
Angelica Rodriguez and Samuel Michael Rodriguez.
Socorro Viezcas and Dolores S. Montoya.
Juan Oscar Calderon and Michelle Lopez Calderon.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise