OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Immigration is a hot-button issue these days.
But for an Omaha family, there’s an ironic twist. They have a loved one who needs to come here and he doesn’t want to stay.
A father’s affection and guidance have to come by phone from the Costa Rican jungle.
“I love you, listen to mama,” Solin Garcia-Sanchez tells his daughter.
Kealy Rudersdorf and four-year-old daughter Celeste came back to her parents’ Omaha home because grandpa has a heart condition. But husband Solin Garcia-Sanchez, a Costa Rican citizen, has been denied twice a visitor’s visa to come with them.
“If something would happen to my parents, I would want him by my side. I want him to be able to come up here and right now he can’t,” said Rudersdorf.
The denial letter from the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica tells Solin he has not demonstrated he has the ties that will compel him to return to his home country after spending time with his in-laws in Omaha.
“I couldn’t imagine him ever living up here. He doesn’t know the plants here,” said Rudersdorf.
In Costa Rica, Solin is known as an Indigenous knowledge keeper teaching others the benefits of growing and harvesting rainforest plants. He’s often interviewed in the jungle there.
“That shows that he is connected to the community down there and that he isn’t going to come here and stay. He doesn’t want to do that,” said mother-in-law, Liz Rudersdorf.
The couple lives in Costa Rica and owns a company producing natural remedies from skin healing to sore muscles.
“No we are locally based in Costa Rica,” said Rudersdorf.
The U.S. state department can’t comment beyond the denial letter. It says there’s no appeal, only a $160 fee to reapply.
“What’s frustrating for me is not just the money and so forth, but it’s for having him come back here to have him part of our family,” said father-in-law, Patrick Rudersdorf.
News reports on the flow of immigrants crossing the border did cross Kealy’s mind.
“We say that as a joke because it would be a lot easier, but we want to do it the right way,” said Rudersdorf.
That’s by contacting federal officials with a united family message.
“We are going to continue doing the good fight trying to get Solin, and that’s my promise to you,” said Patrick Rudersdorf.
The denial letter says professional work is a tie to a home country and the couple believes that’s been proven.
Congressman Don Bacon sent a letter to the U.S. ambassador in Costa Rica asking her to reconsider and issue a non-immigrant visa.