September 29, 2010

Wife of Bear Necessities Worker Wins Visa Approval

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For Bear Necessities “mayor” and food service worker Lane Yon, the burgers have smelled a little smokier and the mozzarella sticks a little cheesier since he received a letter from the State Department approving his wife’s visa application earlier this month.

Since then, Yon has taken a “different mindset of life,” he said. He’s has been “glad to be at work,” preparing to greet his wife, Kim Por, when she arrives in the United States from Cambodia.

Por, who is three months pregnant and had been denied entry to the United States from 2008 until this month, is still waiting for the green light from the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, according to Yon.  Yon expects Por to get clearance in two to three months, hopefully in time for Yon’s son to be born in the U.S.  Por is due in March.

Yon said he was “shocked” by the news of Por’s visa acceptance, since he was not expecting to hear about the status of her application until December.

He speculated that “someone at Cornell read the article [in The Sun chronicling Yon’s struggles] and did something,” since the visa acceptance came “so fast” — exactly a week — after the story’s publication on Sept. 3.

Yon was not sure who could have helped, but guessed that it may have been Cornell alumni, Cornellians with contacts in Congress or President David Skorton.

State Department representatives could not be reached on Wednesday to discuss how the application was approved.

He added that the article brought “his status in the [RPCC] to a new level,” with “random people” asking him how he was doing.

Yon said that, recently, when he cashes people out at Nasties they “look at me like I got something on my face” before remembering how they recognize him.

The experience, according to Yon, has showed him that the “Cornell community is a great group of people, [with] people who don’t know you praying for you … It’s a blessing.”

The American embassy in Cambodia had previously deemed Yon’s marriage with Por “a scam” because, in its view, the two were “only married because of his green card,” according to Yon.

Yon was affected by the embassy’s wariness toward the practice of “sham marriages,” in which Cambodians marry American citizens to obtain entrance to the United States.

Prof. Stephen Yale-Loehr ’77, law, an immigration professor who also practices immigration law at an Ithaca firm, told The Sun in early September that getting one’s real wife through the immigration service’s stringent criteria “often is a problem.”

Yon said that, even though it appears Por will now be accepted, many others are still facing the same difficulties he faced.

He urged them to “never give up, and be patient,” and to “always work hard and fight for what you believe in.”

Yon’s Bear Necessities co-workers say they have noticed a change in him.

Yon has had a “grin on his face from ear to ear,” according to Ronnie Horton, Yon’s shift supervisor.  When Yon got the letter from the State Department, he “cried like a baby all day,” Horton said.  “[He] made us all have tears in our eyes.”

“[He is] all smiles and giggles,” Rasheed Brown, a Bear Necessities food service worker, said of Yon, adding that this was “a good thing.”

Although Por does not speak much English, Yon is excited to show her Bear Necessities, which she has only seen via pictures on Facebook.

The first meal “I’m going to make for my wife will be a [Bear Necessities] Southwest chicken,” Yon said.

Yon said he is looking forward to going home to his wife after work, since working at Bear Necessities at night can be “crazy.” The food service industry is “tough … high pressure and high demand,” Yon said.  “It takes a toll on you.”

Still, Yon said he took great comfort in the support Cornellians have shown him.

“The world’s crazy, not balanced,” Yon said. “But when I come to work and people say, ‘I hope she’ll be here soon,’ [I] feel a lot better … [My] whole attitude towards life changes.”

Original Author: Jeff Stein