Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair for the Democratic Caucus, recently met with a Queens family that he helped to reunite by securing a waiver of inadmissibility to the U.S. for Woodside resident Zully Gallo based on the extreme hardship her absence caused to her U.S. citizen husband and their nine year-old daughter.

Rep. Crowley meets with Woodsiders Zully Gallo, Javier Gomez and their daughter Catalina at his Queens District Office.

Rep. Crowley meets with Woodsiders Zully Gallo, Javier Gomez and their daughter Catalina at his Queens District Office.

“Strengthening our families is vital for our communities to flourish, and I’m thrilled Zully was able to rejoin her husband and daughter to begin rebuilding their lives,” said Crowley. “Overcoming restrictions on re-entering the country for people who have legal immigration options is often more challenging than it ought to be. That’s why it continues to be imperative for us to act on comprehensive reform – so that we can help more families like this one stay together.”

“We are very grateful to Congressman Crowley for all his help and his concern for the well-being of our family,” said Javier Gomez, Ms. Gallo’s spouse. “After a long and arduous process, our family is once again able to live under the same roof.”

In 2009, Ms. Gallo, an undocumented immigrant from Colombia left the U.S. to care after her ailing mother. However, Ms. Gallo was unable to re-enter the U.S., as she was subject to a 10-year restriction for having earlier had unlawful presence in the country. As the wife of Mr. Gomez, a U.S. citizen, Ms. Gallo would be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. to be with her husband and daughter. Despite this, her immigrant visa was denied due to the re-entry bar imposed.

Millions of families are affected by these re-entry bars, where a family member may have legal opportunities to immigrate to the U.S., but if they leave the country to apply for their visa, they are barred from re-entering even under the legal visa. However, when the separation would cause extreme hardship to family members in the U.S, waivers of the bars can be granted.

Mr. Gomez contacted Crowley’s office for assistance and applied for a waiver while demonstrating the financial, emotional and medical hardship he would suffer caring for his daughter alone, on top of his own medical conditions. Crowley strongly urged United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to support his application. The waiver was approved in July 2014 and Ms. Gallo was able to return to the U.S. in time for the holiday season.

In November, Crowley commended<> the executive action taken by President Obama to help fix our nation’s broken immigration system. The administration’s new measures included new regulations to help improve the process for immigrants seeking waivers from 3- and 10-year bars to re-enter the U.S. In addition, it has expanded the family members eligible for the waiver and also directed USCIS to issue guidance clarifying how extreme hardship can be demonstrated, ensuring that standards are not applied arbitrarily in different situations.

Congressman Crowley is the nine-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.