Reproduced from Newsday Long Island

Saturday, November 3, 2001

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Englewood , NJ 07631

201.871.6666

 

Woman Dying of Cancer Wins a Round With INS

By Bart Jones

 

Saturday, Nov. 3, 2001 Nassau

 

A Long Beach woman who is dying of lung cancer has cleared a major hurdle in her fight against the federal government's effort to deport her husband to South Africa, her lawyer and husband said Tuesday.

 

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has agreed to transfer Louis Shaban's case from Phoenix to Manhattan and reopen the case, said his lawyer, Michael J. Wildes of Manhattan .

 

That decision could clear the way for Shaban to stay in the United States to accompany his wife, Mariann LaMonte-Shaban, in her final days and to gain legal permanent residency, Wildes said.

 

“It's really fantastic,” Louis Shaban said Tuesday. “It's a major breakthrough.”

 

Shaban, 35, acknowledges he overstayed a tourist visa in 1994 while living in Phoenix and has been fighting deportation ever since. He and his wife, a U.S. citizen in her 40s, were married in January 1996, but he says his efforts to stay have been caught up in governmental red tape and bad advice from immigration lawyers.

 

The latest deportation order calls for him to leave the United States by January.

 

Wildes said the case still must be heard by an immigration judge in Manhattan . He believes the judge will rule in his favor because the INS is backing the latest move. The process of gaining legal residency could still take a few months, he added.

 

Russell Ahr, special assistant to the director of the Phoenix INS office, said the agency agreed to the move because “we recognize some fundamental humanitarian basis to proceed upon.”

 

He said that although there's no guarantee Shaban will gain legal residency, the actions of the Phoenix INS office should significantly bolster his chances.

 

Shaban's case originated in Phoenix and has been passed around among INS district offices, including Manhattan and Boston , because the couple moved. They now live in Long Beach .

 

Mariann LaMonte-Shaban was diagnosed with cancer last year. Doctors say she is in stage four, the most serious category, and that her prognosis is grim.

 

Wildes said about 500 people sent letters to the INS supporting the Shabans. The couple also appeared on the “Today” show in April after Newsday told their story.

 

Wildes said he was elated the case is finally moving forward. “This is like doing CPR and there's a pulse that has now come back after all these years,” he said.

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