Local family torn apart by immigration red-tape

Jennifer Eckert with her daughter, Kathryn, during happier times. (Photo courtesy of Paul Bradshaw.)
Jennifer Eckert with her daughter, Kathryn, during happier times. (Photo courtesy of Paul Bradshaw.)

Saint-Lazare dad struggling during process

Paul Bradshaw is waiting for the day when his girlfriend and the mother of their 3-year-old daughter can return to their Saint Lazare home.

Bradshaw, who has lived with Jennifer Eckert in Saint Lazare since 2003, has been a single father since August when Eckert, an American citizen, was denied entry back into Canada after the family visited her hometown in Pennsylvania for a few days.

According to Bradshaw, Eckert was told by Canadian border guards that they felt she was trying to skirt the system and not become a permanent resident in Canada.

She was turned away and has been living with her parents in Lititz, Penn. since. Eckert has only seen her daughter Kathryn, who will turn 4 in May, once at Christmas. Eckert gave birth to Kathryn while living in Canada.

Bradshaw says the separation is taking a toll on Kathryn, who has since been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder by doctors.

And though they had lived together in Canada for 13-years without incident, he says he didn’t apply for Eckert’s permanent resident status as he thought he didn’t qualify.

“On its website Quebec says has its own immigration criteria separate from Canada and it said I would have to make $55,000 a year to sponsor her plus pay non-refundable application fees of like $1,200. I don’t make that much …We have a small child so that money would go a long way,” he explained.

Instead, they did what they thought was within the rules for legal visitors to Canada by going back to the states every 180 days.

“Something as simple as going to Plattsburgh for lunch one day would reset the timer and she’d have another 180 days,” he noted.

All that came to a halt last August.

Bradshaw has since had to hire an immigration lawyer. He says Eckert received a required FBI criminal record clearance this week because “everyone coming to Canada now needs clearance at the U.S. state and federal level.”

His lawyer tells him Eckert may be able to come back to her Saint Lazare home, where she is a stay-at-home mom, by April or May if all goes well with the application process. He says he and Kathryn can’t visit Eckert because he doesn’t drive and all of his money is going toward the immigration process. Until then, he is doing his best to care for Kathryn while running a cell phone repair business out of the home. “She’s having more tantrums every day. The doctors think its because of the anxiety from being away from her mom… it might go away when she comes back, but it’ll take time.” Bradshaw’s greatest wish now is for their lives to simply “return to normal.”


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