Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eastlake: Mom jailed by immigration agents (WKYC-OH)

Eastlake: Mom jailed by immigration agents
4:35 AM, Apr 20, 2011

EASTLAKE -- An Eastlake mother of three has spent the last 11 days in the Bedford Heights city jail because of what her family and friends say is a "paperwork mistake" by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Beatrice Kiarie, 38, was taken into custody April 8 because her family says she missed a meeting with immigration officials.

The family says the notice about the meeting was mailed to the wrong address.

"She's been going every time, as required," Kiarie's husband George said from the family's Eastlake home, about her regular appointments with immigration. "So I believe she should at least have been told what is going on before being detained."

The Kiaries came to Cleveland from Nairobi, Kenya in 1996 as students. George earned an MBA from Cleveland State University. Beatrice also earned her degree from CSU. They married in 1998 and have three children.

"This has been very hard on the children," George Kiarie tells WKYC. "The kids are always asking where she is, and it's very hard for me to explain to them that Mommy's not coming tonight. That Mommy won't be here."

The Kiaries bought a house in Eastlake about a year ago, moving from Warrensville Heights. The family's pastor, who has been visiting Beatrice in jail, says immigration officials have acknowledged their error, but said that it could take three months to fix.

Officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service were not available for comment Tuesday evening.

"This family is what everyone says they are," Pastor Don Morris of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Orange Village tells WKYC. "They're just the sweetest people, doing everything right, and yet bureaucracy has gotten the best of them."

At a Tuesday evening Bible study, church members raised up prayers for Beatrice and the family.

"I see the kids every day, and we are very worried about the children," says family friend and fellow church member Myrtis Walker. "This has been affecting their school work."

Walker says she and Beatrice became fast friends when both joined the church about three years ago.

"Bea is such a soft, tender-hearted person," Walker says. "She's a wonderful lady. She's very kind, very soft-spoken. She's easy to talk to. A very, very nice lady."

Pastor Morris says Beatrice has had both good and bad days as a prisoner at the Bedford Heights jail.

"But she's trying to make the best of it by ministering to the other prisoners," he offered. "We hope to have her home by Easter."

At the family home, the children struggle to concentrate on homework while their father prepares meals.

"My wife did the cooking," he explains. "She loved to cook and took care of us."

"I really miss mom because she's been gone for a long time," says Lauren, 7, as her brothers, Jeffrey, 13, and Patrick, 5, take a break from homework and distract themselves with a video game.

Lauren spoke for herself and her family.

"Every time we check with the people to see if she's free to go," the little girl earnestly explained, "they keep saying no, that she hasn't finished her papers yet. So we're still keeping her in our prayers."

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