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In the predawn semidarkness of a small West Toledo apartment, Dae and Yung Jung stumbled toward the thumping at their front door.
Seconds later, officers in dark jackets emblazoned with Homeland Security crammed into the couple's living room demanding passports and drivers' licenses. Mrs. Jung was escorted to jail. Upstairs, the couple's son, Andrew, hid, stunned and baffled.
Now, five weeks later, immigration officials still press for Yung and Dae Jung's deportation to their native land, South Korea. But the couple - Dae Jung is a sushi chef; Yung Jung is a longtime school volunteer - are finding that their support from their churches, their son's school, and even a congressman is continuing to mount.
"This is a couple who have worked and paid taxes and made contributions," Dan Foote, an assistant to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) told The Blade earlier this week. "And their son is American as you and I."
In fact, Andrew, 14, is a U.S. citizen because he was born in Toledo while Mr. Jung was studying at the University of Toledo on a student visa.
"I'm OK, I guess. I have friends, and they've been great," the teen said this week in the family living room where his school back pack had been tossed on the floor and the walls are adorned with pictures of Jesus Christ, a wooden cross, and a laminated poster of a bald eagle with a red, white, and blue background.
"It's been rough," Andrew said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know when I'll know what's going to happen."
Since her arrest Feb. 16, Ms. Jung, a quiet-spoken woman whose volunteer work at Emmanuel Baptist School earned her a community award last year, has been moved from Michigan jail to Michigan jail.
Mr. Jung continues to work, saying he is concerned that immigration officials may arrest him, which would leave the couple's son alone. His days are broken up with calls to attorneys, jail personnel, and family friends.
In the meantime, Andrew continues with his school work at Emmanuel Baptist, where he is ranked academically near the top of his class and with violin practice with Toledo Youth Orchestra. He plays basketball and hangs out with friends, but he has also learned how to do laundry and other household chores.
"He's been really good about it," Mr. Jung said of his son. "I know it has been difficult."
According to the government, Dae Jung and his wife have been living in the United States illegally since 1996. But according to the Jungs, they are simply victims of a paperwork mix-up because they were never told of two hearings in August, 1996, in which an immigration judge would decide if they could remain in the United States.
Because they did not appear for the hearings, both were ordered deported, according to Greg Gagne, a spokesman for the Immigration Review office, a component of U.S. Department of Justice. Those deportation orders remain, but the Jungs' attorneys have asked U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus in Cleveland to intervene so the Jungs may get another hearing in front of an immigration judge and possibly become U.S. citizens. A court date is not set.
For now, Mr. Jung wants his wife returned to her West Toledo home. Since she was arrested, she has seen her husband and her pastor just one time each. She has called Andrew several times, "but she cries when we talk," the teenager said.
The Jungs had been married about a year when they arrived in Toledo in 1984 so Mr. Jung could attend UT. Graduating with average grades 10 years later, he took his family - the Jungs by now had a 4-year-old son, Andrew - back to Korea in 1995. But the return was heart-breaking, he said. The Seoul area was congested and busy and noisy. Young Andrew could not communicate well with other Korean children. The couple, who had spent most of their adult life in Toledo, longed for the greener, more open spaces of the Midwest, Mr. Jung said.
They decided to return, and Mr. Jung applied for a second student visa, saying he wanted to study at a language school in Michigan. But when he returned to Toledo, he changed his mind, ultimately deciding to return to UT to study accounting.
When he wrote to the INS to tell them of his new plan, they denied continuation of his visa.
"The evidence clearly indicates that you did not intend to attend the Michigan Language Center and therefore entered the United States fraudulently," Robert Brown, INS district director, wrote to Mr. Jung in a letter dated Nov. 21, 1995.
But the Jungs liked Toledo, and their son was being raised an American. They signed him up for kindergarten at Emmanuel Baptist Elementary School, and Mrs. Jung began volunteering there, eventually helping at gym classes, assisting in the library, and helping organize book fairs.
"She doesn't go down the hallway without greeting everybody and making their day. She comes through the door with 'What do you need to me to do?'●" said Principal Cindy Dunnett.
In 1996, the Jungs retained a Toledo attorney to again request permission to stay. Again they were denied. Hoping to work out problems with immigration officials, Mr. Jung worked odd jobs for cash, dropping out of class.
"I knew I had a problem with immigration," he said. "I was confused. I thought I could get by. At the same time, I knew I had to clean up the mess I'd made."
Eventually, he began working at Kotobuki restaurant, becoming a sushi chef. The restaurant asked the U.S. Department of Labor for permission to hire Mr. Jung. On Aug. 14, 2000, he was issued a certificate allowing him to work - a sort of first step toward a green card, his attorneys said. Believing his paperwork problems were behind him, Mr. Jung has worked at the restaurant since that time.
Dennis Chung, owner of Kotubuki, said he has entrusted Mr. Jung to operate the sushi bar, by himself, at the downtown Navy Bistro's wine bar.
"There are obviously cases of not-so-legitimate cases for citizenship, but this is not one of them," Mr. Chung said.
He said the Jungs may have been here illegally, but the government should be concerned with real threats to security, not working citizens.
"I know there are a lot of people who want to come to this country, and we have a right to be selective," agreed family friend Leonard Jessop. "But don't we want someone who is law-abiding, someone willing to work?"
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