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Published: Wednesday, 8/10/2005

Deportation tears a West Toledo family apart

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The options were limited and the choice excruciating.

In a simple West Toledo apartment yesterday, Dae Jung sorted and stacked belongings bound for his homeland. If all goes as scheduled, the 46-year-old sushi chef and his imprisoned wife, Young, will meet tomorrow at Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport's international terminal.

With immigration officials nearby, they will say good-bye to friends, supporters, and their 15-year-old son, Andrew, a U.S. citizen.

At about 2:35 p.m., the Jungs will board Northwest Airlines Flight No. 25 for a 7,157-mile flight to Incheon, South Korea, leaving behind the city they've called home for more than two decades.

At his Secor Road apartment yesterday, Mr. Jung ran his hands through his hair. A Korean-English dictionary was on the coffee table next to snapshots of a smiling Mrs. Jung and Andrew. Dried roses and a wooden cross his wife had hung still adorned the walls.

Young Jung Young Jung
Enlarge

And Mr. Jung's normally soft voice grew louder as he spoke of his wife, a longtime volunteer at Emmanuel Baptist Christian School.

"I know it looks like I'm giving up, but I have really few choices," Mr. Jung said. "I don't want to keep coming home while my wife, who has done nothing wrong, is in jail. They treat her like a criminal."

Mrs. Jung has been behind bars in a string of Michigan prisons since U.S. Homeland Security officers raided the couple's home in February. Acting on deportation orders signed in 1996, they arrested Mrs. Jung but released Mr. Jung to care for Andrew.

Since then, the couple has lost several legal battles to reverse the deportation orders. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last week declined to put the orders on hold, noting that the Jungs "have not shown a likelihood of success" in winning the case on its merits.

Most frustrating for the Jungs' supporters is that the couple was never allowed court hearings into the matter. A request to release Mrs. Jung on bond pending the decision on the deportation orders was postponed, transferred to another court, but never held.

"My eyes are opened up about how our tax dollars are being wasted. [Mrs. Jung] has been locked up at what cost every day? She's being transported again and again and again. She's no threat to anybody and she never got a day in court," said Cindy Dunnett, a principal at Emmanuel Baptist Elementary School.

The couple's woes began in 1995, when immigration officials questioned why Mr. Jung was not following through on education plans he had set out on his visa application.

The Jungs, who have been married 21 years, came to Toledo in 1984 so Mr. Jung could attend the University of Toledo, but he failed to continue the education at a Michigan language school, according to immigration officials. At a 1996 hearing, the Jungs were ordered deported.

The couple argued they never knew of the hearing and that they've never tried to hide from authorities. Mr. Jung's employer, Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant, had gained permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to hire Mr. Jung, who was assigned to the Navy Bistro restaurant downtown.

But a panel of three 6th Circuit Court judges said that notices were mailed to the Jungs in 1996, alerting them of the hearing. If the Jungs moved, it was up to the couple to file proper change of address papers with immigration authorities, the judges noted.

Andrew, who plays violin with the Toledo Youth Orchestra and yesterday tried out for the golf team at Emmanuel Baptist, will remain in Toledo with Bob and Mary Flamm, the school's administrator and a first-grade teacher, respectively. The decision to help was simple, Mr. Flamm said.

"I realize that proper paperwork may not have been filed, but as far as model citizens, you couldn't find better," he said.

Andrew said he doesn't want to be without his parents, yet the alternative is worse: moving to an unfamiliar life in an unfamiliar country.

He and his father shared a rare smile yesterday as the teenager lamented that he has missed his mother's traditional Korean noodle dishes since her arrest. His father relies too much on boxed mashed potatoes, he said.

His eyes darted to the floor: "I'm sure it will be difficult to adjust without my mom and dad. But leaving my friends and everything else here would be even more difficult."

Mr. Jung and Andrew drove to the prison in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Sunday to break the news to Mrs. Jung. Leaving Toledo stirs the same emotions he felt in 1984 when he left his homeland, Mr. Jung said. But this time, the sadness slices deeper.

"Then, I was coming here with a goal and hopes to accomplish things," he said. "Now I go with fear. I don't know what will happen. I don't know when we will see Andrew again."

Contact Robin Erb at:

robinerb@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.



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