Buoyed by hope

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The Vang gang of Warren is doing — if not fine — at least better these days, thanks to a groundswell of public support and some political intervention.

Regular readers know that Laotian natives Guy Vang, his wife Genevieve and their four children face a deportation hearing in May that will likely send them packing after the Immigration and Naturalization Service lost their paperwork for 10 years. (“Out of options,” Metro Times, Oct. 9-15) In that period, the Vangs settled into the American dream, buying a house in the burbs and opening a successful restaurant in Dearborn. Their hard work and good civic record does not even guarantee a hearing before judgment is rendered.

But hundreds of people have visited their Web site and written letters to Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin. All three politicians have written to the INS in support of the Vangs, with Carl Levin doing much of the heavy lifting.

Jason Peltz, co-counsel for the Vangs, planned to file a brief with the INS today officially asking for prosecutorial leniency in the case. The INS has the discretion of moving the case to a venue where a hearing would be held or it could drop the case entirely.

Still, Peltz says that legally nothing has changed.

“I’m a little more optimistic and the only reason is that the community support has been so amazing,” he says. “We’ve just gotten so many people willing to help. And when I talked to the senators’ offices, they really sound motivated, and they stated that they’re going to fight this thing to the end.”

That hope is what keeps the family going, says oldest sibling Caroline Vang, 18, a freshman at Macomb Community College.

“Despite the situation, this experience is teaching me to cherish everything that I have before it all gets taken away,” she says. “There were some moments when the family and I got really dispirited and overwhelmed and we would just cry together as if our last day as Americans had arrived. But when support quickly came in we were encouraged and reminded to try to stay positive and not give up the fight.”

The Vang support Web site is www.keepvanghere.com.

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