7-2-2012By Julie Hysenaj
My husband Arben and I have been forcibly separated for 5 years now. We are among thousands of families who have suffered because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to use its authority to protect innocent people being labeled as “terrorists” by our immigration laws.
Arben is from Kosovo; I am a U.S. citizen. We married in Texas. We love each other and plan to spend the rest of our lives together.
Immigration laws required he have his visa processed overseas, so he left the U.S. to apply for a visa back home. After a long delay, his visa application was denied, and for a long time we didn’t know why. We thought we’d done everything right.
I finally found out that he was labeled as a “terrorist” because for a brief time in the late 1990′s, he had been part of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Arben himself had explained this in his immigration applications—he had nothing to hide. I was shocked: the United States does not consider KLA a terrorist group; in fact, the United States supported Kosovo’s liberation from the Milosevic regime.
DHS has acknowledged this systemic problem, and it is issuing exemptions to those wrongly labeled as terrorists. Secretary Napolitano recently signed an exemption to allow people with past associations with the KLA—including my husband—to have their cases processed. Once that exemption is implemented, I hope to reunite with him soon. But there are 4,500 other people here in the U.S. whose applications are still stuck in red tape without an end in sight.