Immigration tales: Kansas youth pastor's paperwork mistake sends family back to Canada

GARDNER, Kan. — Unlike millions of illegal immigrants, Canadian Ben Neufeld attempted to stay within the law and keep his family in the United States as permanent residents.

He succeeded in getting his green card, but because of a paperwork mistake he made in the long, complicated process, his wife and oldest child were declared illegal residents.

So since January, the music director and youth pastor at a church in Gardner in Johnson County outside Kanasas City has been living legally in the United States without his wife and four children.

He has spent much of this year trying in vain to get them back. To make matters worse, they are prohibited from entering the United States again for 10 years.

“That’s what I’m trying to get overturned,” Neufeld said.

Neufeld’s story is one of a paperwork mistake on his part, the complexity of immigration policy and a lack of notification of the mistake — until it was too late — by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“It’s a very unforgiving process,” said Emily Haverkamp, an immigration attorney representing Neufeld.

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