Immigration officials block Liberian mom from MN teen's funeral - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Immigration officials block Liberian mother from Minn. teen's funeral

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PLYMOUTH, Minn. (KMSP) -

A Plymouth, Minnesota man is planning a funeral for his teenage son, who drowned in an indoor swimming pool last month, but immigration officials have denied his Liberian mother a visa to attend the service.

It’s turning into a bitter immigration battle, especially since the family delayed the funeral of 16-year-old Benedict Richardson until this Saturday, assuming one month would be enough time to get his mother to Minnesota.

“If she can be allowed to come to even leave a flower at the grave, I will highly appreciate it,” said Benedict’s father, Emmette Richardson.

REASON FOR DENIED VISA

U.S. Consulate officials aren’t giving Brenda Flomo, a visitor visa, because they think she may try to stay in Minnesota for good. The letter from the embassy stated there wasn't proof that Flomo would return home after coming to the U.S.

The consulate sent the rejection letter to Amanda's Smith's team at the International Institute of Minnesota, which helped write the application for Flomo's visitor visa. The consulate essentially determined her situation back home is not stable.


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“You really have to show you have assets in your home country -- you have a house, a bank account,” Smith said.

Those are luxuries Brenda Flomo does not have, according to Richardson

“She just sells goods in the market in order to survive,” he said.

COMPLICATIONS

Richardson never married Flomo after they met in a Liberian refugee camp. Complicating matters, immigration attorney Vincent Martin says many Liberians left their war-torn nation on temporary visas, but some never returned even after the visas expired.

“Unfortunately, that just lays the ground work for everyone coming behind them, and makes it that much more difficult to get a visa,” Martin said.

Richardson says he'll continue to seek other options until Benedict's mother can say goodbye in person, to her only son.

“She clearly told me that she is not coming to stay in America, but just to see the face of the son and go back,” Richardson said.

KLOBUCHAR'S OFFICE DENIED TOO

Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office is now trying to help Richardson get a visitor visa for Benedict’s mother, but they were also recently denied by the consulate.

Richardson said he plans on re-applying, but says he's exhausted and discouraged by this experience.


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