Friends and Family
United States of America

June 2005

Dear Friends,

Please show your support for our friends, Andrew and Blanka Danecek, and sign this online petition demanding that the motion for their deportation be rescinded and that they be allowed to be in the U.S., be given permanent resident status, green cards and the right to apply for US citizenship. Then we ask you to pass this petition on to your family and friends.

Let me tell you their story:

Almost 17 years ago (July 1988), Andrew and Blanka Danecek escaped with their two sons, Andy (age 11) and Christopher (age 9), from their native Czechoslovakia, just hours before Andrew, a lawyer, was to be arrested by the secret police for distributing banned literature. Andrew was tried by the Communist Government in absentia and sentenced to prison, making him a political refugee.

In Vienna, they applied for political asylum at the US Consulate. While the family waited to be interviewed, the U.S. Congress passed the "Lautenberg Amendment" giving priority to Soviet refugees from the USSR. The Danecek's are not from the USSR, they escaped from Czechoslovakia, a country occupied by the USSR. This put their emigration status on low priority.

Waiting in a refugee camp outside Vienna, two things happened. Christopher was diagnosed with leukemia, and the Berlin Wall came down. Immediately, the U.S denied all applications for political asylum except for those covered by the Lautenberg Amendment. Meanwhile, doctors in Austria, anticipating that the family would be granted political asylum in the U.S., made arrangements for Christopher's care in Minneapolis, MN.

One day, Andrew and Blanka were notified by the U.S. Consulate in Vienna that their visas had arrived. In September, 1990, they arrived in New York City as "humanitarian parolees - time indefinite." Since their visas were stamped with the words "time indefinite," they believed they would soon obtain their permanent residency status. They were affirmed in that belief when their work permits were renewed routinely every fall.

Andrew and Blanka started in Minneapolis with only their hopes and dreams. They each worked two jobs to make ends meet; every day grateful for the opportunity to come to the U.S. and start anew in the land of freedom. Christopher was treated at Minneapolis Children's Hospital, and his leukemia remains in remission today. Both boys were excellent students. The Danecek family dream seemed to be fulfilled.

In 1995, tragedy struck. Eighteen-yr-old Andy fell to his death as a result of a climbing accident. Incredibly, the Danecek's pulled together and survived this new crisis. In 1996 a healthy baby girl, Blanche was born. Christopher finished high school in Minnesota and in May, 2001, graduated from Boston University. Blanche will begin 4th grade this Fall. Andrew and Blanka saved enough to buy a home in Minnesota. Their work ethic and the desire to be good citizens propelled them to excel. They both have good jobs with excellent work history. They love America.

After September 11, 2001, the immigrant status for the Danecek family changed for the worse. Appearing for the annual interview to have their work permits renewed, an immigration officer from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service told Andrew and Blanka that they were not humanitarian parolees, but "arriving aliens," allowed to be here physically, but with no legal status because they were not "admitted." Those covered by the Lautenberg Amendment can change their "arriving alien" status to permanent residency, but since Andrew and Blanka are from the Czech Republic, they cannot.

In 2002, the Office of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) began deportation proceedings against Andrew and Blanka Danecek.

In May after two and ½ years of legal battles and appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the INS told Andrew and Blanka Danecek that they have until June 13, 2005 to leave their adopted country, the United States of America.

Blanche, as an American citizen is welcome to return to the U.S. at age 18. Christopher, married to an American Citizen in 2001, has a permanent residency status and his application for US citizenship is about to be granted. But their parents have been told that they are not welcome here.

As Americans and as friends who value this family for all the talent and perseverance they bring to this country, we take exception to this irrational and inhumane decision. Deporting Andrew and Blanka Danecek is an act of grave injustice. We hope you agree.

Please show your support for Andrew and Blanka Danecek and sign this online petition demanding that the motion for deportation be rescinded; that Andrew and Blanka Danecek be allowed in the U.S., be given permanent status, green cards and the right to apply for US citizenship.

Carol J Just
Katharina E. Halverson
Anne L. Halverson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

UPDATE....JUNE 2005......

On June 13, 2005, Blanka and Andrew Danecek accompanied by their son, Christopher Danecek, and their lawyer, Herbert Igbanugo, met with Scott R. Baniecke, Field Office Director of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS). They were armed with 444 signatures on this petition and a letter requesting special consideration from Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton.

Mr. Baniecke was not swayed in his endeavor to expedite their departure. Their passports were confiscated and they were told they are now under threat of detention at any time. They were told to be at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport on July 14, 2005, tickets in hand for a destination outside of this county. They were told that they will be met at the airport by an employee of the US Department of Homeland Security, given their passports and ushered on to their departing flight.

Their son, Christopher Danecek, is scheduled for his Naturalization Interview in Boston, on July 13, the day before Andrew and Blanka have been ordered to depart. Once naturalized, Christopher will petition for green card status for his parents, opening the door for their ultimate naturalization. Mr Baniecke has this information, yet remains firm in his mandate.

This cruel and unreasonable demand on the part of Mr. Beniecke and the US Department of Homeland Security will create unnecessary hardship for this family. There is no reason to deport them. They have done nothing illegal. They pose no threat to this nation. They are important contributors to the fabric of this society.

If they leave, there is no guarantee when/if they can get back. They risk losing their jobs and their home. Blanche could lose the only home and culture she has ever known. They will be separated from their son, Christopher.

If you believe in justice and mercy, please sign this petition and share it with everyone you know.
Thank You,

Carol J. Just,
Katharina E. Halverson
Anne L. Halverson

Update.....July 10, 2005

Barring a last minute change of heart by Mr. Scott R Beniecke, Director of Minnesota's Department of Homeland Security, Andrew, Blanka and Blanche Danecek will be leaving the United States on Wednesday, July 13, to await a petition for their return by their son, Christopher Danecek, when he receives his naturalization approval. Christoper's naturalization interview was cancelled for July 13. He is awaiting word of a rescheduled appointment.

Friends and supporters of Andrew and Blanka Danecek gathered today (Sunday, 7/10) at Louisiana Oaks Park in St. Louis Park. MN. Among them were former St. Louis Park and St. Paul Academy classmates of their sons, Andy and Christopher, along with co-workers, friends, neighbors and concerned citizens.

Update.....July 17, 2005

Andrew, Blanka and Blanche Danecek departed willingly from Mpls/St. Paul International Airport at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13. arriving in Prague, Czech Republic after a 19 hr. journey.

Media reports(7/11/05 and 7/14/05)of their story can be accessed at startribune.com and fox9news.com.

The one room apartment they were planning to use is in dire disrepair. They have found other temporary lodging. Unable to be working in Minnesota and no employment in Prague means no income. Savings will go quickly. Their future is at great risk right now.

We thank Shubha Harris, 612-727-5231, in MN Senator Mark Dayton's office for her effort in clearing the way for a new date for Chris Danecek's Naturalization Interview.

We also thank Emily Kluver in MN Senator Norm Coleman's office, 651-645-3809, emily_kluver @ coleman.senate.gov for her ongoing effort to waive any delays in the Danecek family's return to MN.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), The Minnesota Department of Homeland Security, the US Senate offices, print and radio and television media are very aware of this petition. PETITION SIGNERS ARE ALSO VOTERS. PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO OTHERS. THE SUPPORT IS CRITICAL.

This petition serves as a vehicle to maintain awareness of this injustice and to demonstrate to the Minnesota Department of Homeland Secuity and the US Embassy in Prague that the Danecek family belongs in Minnesota, USA.

Thank You,

Carol J. Just
Katharina E.Halverson
Anne L. Halverson

Update....August 14, 2005

Andrew, Blanka and Blanche Danecek have been staying with friends and family for one month in Prague. A story about their journey has been covered by an English language newspaper, "The Prague Post," and an interview with Andrew on a Prague based English language radio station has brought this story to Europe.

Christopher Danecek's Naturalization interview is scheduled in Boston, MA on Monday, August 22. Herbert Igbanugo, lawyer for the family, will be present and is requesting immediate approval. Upon approval, the Immigration Visa Petition for Andrew and Blanka Danecek can be filed. There are more twists and turns from the USCIS to the National Visa Center (NVC), to the lawyer, back to the NVC and finally to the US Embassy in Prague where interviews with Andrew and Blanka will take place before visas are issued for their return. At every turn, the legal team will be ready and the Senate offices of Minnesota's Senators Dayton and Coleman are on-call for extra help. How wonderful to report the collaboration of these two senate offices.

We continue to seek signatures for this petition to show to the authorities at every juncture of this process that we believe that Andrew and Blanka Danecek deserve American citizenship and belong in this country.

Thank You,
Carol J. Just
Katharina E. Halverson
Anne L. Halverson

Update....January 12, 2006

I am happy to announce that after 6 months of waiting, this week we were informed that the National Visa Center (NVC) has approved the Immigration Visa Petitions submitted by Christopher Danecek requesting his parents be allowed to return to the US, be issued green cards and begin the process of US citizenship. Today we were notifed that the Citizen and Immigration Service (CIS) in Minnesota has signed the I 212 Waiver, the final hurdle that will allow Blanka and Andrew Danecek to return to Minnesota and resume their life here.

NVC will be sending all the paperwork to the US Embassy in Prague on 1/13/05.
The approved and signed waiver will arrive in Prague within days. Upon arrival and with a request from the office of Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton that this case be expedited, Blanka and Andrew will be invited for their interview at the US Embassy in Prague. All documents are in order and ready to present to officials there. Soon after their interview they should be approved to return to Minnesota.

We owe a debt of thanks to the legal team, the many friends, elected officials, co-workers and concerned citizens who have remained steadfast in their intention to bring this family back to America. To all who signed this petition...many, many thanks for believing in justice and mercy and for believing in the American Dream. We have now witnessed that our voice does count.

I will update this petition again when we have firm dates for Andrew, Blanka and Blanche Danecek's arrival at Mpls/St. Paul Airport.

Carol J Just
Katharina Halverson
Anne L. Halverson

Update: Feb 22, 2006

Dear Friends of Andrew and Blanka Danecek,

I am happy to announce that Andrew, Blanka and Blanche Danecek will be returning to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on Friday, February 24, 2006, 4:20 p.m.

They are arriving on KLM via Prague/Amsterdam/Mpls. After going through US customs they can be welcomed at the MSP Airport Lindbergh terminal, at the far west end of the lower level (baggage claim) area. All of you are encouraged to be a part of this celebration.

This is a clear victory for Andrew and Blanka, son Christopher and daughter Blanche, for the legal team at Blackwell Igbanugo and for all of you who have diligently offered your support, concern and prayers over these seven months.

Special thanks to Herbert Igbanugo and his legal team at Blackwell-Igbanugo P.A., Shubha Harris of Senator Mark Dayton's Minnesota office, Hennepin County 7th District Commissioner, Penny Steel, Emily Kluver of Senator Norm Coleman's Minnesota office, Jeff and Dawn Matuza, next door neighbors who have diligently kept an eye on the family home, Drea Garrison, foster mom to "Charlie," the beloved family dachshund and Dee Lenadee, Charlie's back-up foster mom.

And....to the many friends and co-workers who never lost their focus, kept this case on the radar, wrote personal testimonials of support during the waiver process and joined 1063 individuals in signeing a petition to rescind the deportation of Andrew and Blanka Danecek, YOUR voice rang loud and clear, making a statement that, above all, democracy provides the most powerful voice.

Attached find the official press release from the office of Blackwell-Igbanugo

Now we can ALL celebrate!

Carol J. Just
Anne L. Halverson
Katharina E. Halverson

We demand that the INS motion for the deportation of Andrew and Blanka Danecek be rescinded; that they be allowed to return to the U.S., be given permanent status, green cards and the right to apply for US citizenship.

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The Rescind deportation order against Andrew and Blanka Danecek petition to Friends and Family was written by Anne Halverson and is in the category Justice at GoPetition.

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