American 5-Year-Old Will Die if US Doesn't Grant Sister a Visa

hospitalIf there is ever a bad time to take a hardline stance on immigration policy, the state department just picked it. A 5-year-old girl in New Jersey is dying of leukemia, and her best chance at life is a bone marrow donation from her sister in El Salvador. Only problem? The US government has twice told 7-year-old Gisselle she's not eligible for a visa to come into this country.

It's a situation so absurd, it's impossible to approach it with anything but outrage. Nobody likes to hear about a sick child. And Yarelis Bonilla is very, very sick. Her doctors call her condition "life-threatening." And then there's the other factor that makes little Yarelis such a sympathetic figure.


She is an American in every sense of the word. Born in America with a father who is a legal permanent resident and a grandfather who is an American citizen, Yarelis is exactly the type of person the government is supposed to protect. And yet, they're not.

I'll say this about the state department: they may have just found the one case that brings people on both sides of the immigration debate together.

Why aren't they helping this child? To make a stand? To show they're tough on immigration? They're holding firm on our borders? The official word is that they need proof that Yarelis' life is truly in danger, and they need proof that Gisselle won't be sticking around sucking on the government teat.

I call a load of bull pucky on that one. We're talking about one 7-year-old girl, who will be brought into the country and go directly to a New Jersey hospital to donate bone marrow. She's hardly a risk. Trust me -- as someone who voluntarily put herself on the bone marrow registry, I've talked to people who have been through the donation process. It's not awful, but you certainly don't have the energy to take a run the next day. Chances are pretty darn good some homeland security folks could handle hustling Gisselle back onto a flight out of the country after the procedure.

As a mother, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of herself if she doesn't act on this one herself. And so should every person on down the line. Want to make sure they know how you feel? Tweet about this family @StateDept, shout about it on their Facebook wall, and contact your Congressman.

If the US government doesn't accept the Bonilla family's request for humanitarian parole, will you have faith in them?


Image via boliston/Flickr

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