By Patrick Markey
Christmas seems to have arrived early for Jan Reddy and her daughter Chelsea.
First, New York Senator-elect Charles Schumer managed to secure humanitarian parole for Reddy, an Irish immigrant who had been battling to stay in the United States to care for her severely disabled 6-year-old daughter.
Then, just after she signed documents allowing her to stay, Reddy received a call from another politician offering to help her travel to Canada to complete the technicalities of her new status.
"I’m relieved. I can relax, at least for a now. Basically, it was understood by everyone involved that it was an extraordinary case," Reddy said.
"We’re over the first hurdle, but Chelsea’s problems are not going to go away in a year."
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Reddy will be allowed to stay for one year under the temporary parole, and next week she will travel to Canada for two days and then return to New York, as she is required to do under the parole conditions, Gilda Riccardi, Reddy’s attorney said.
Reddy’s case made the news after politicians, including Rep. Pete King and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, rallied to her side asking that the INS reconsider her position.
Chelsea suffers from multiple disabilities and is currently in speech and physical therapy. Since 1996 has made slow but definite progress, and the school that she attends allows her to be integrated in classes with other children, her mother said.
That progress seemed to be threatened when Reddy, who was born in Dublin, was told by INS officials that they had not extended the special visa which allowed her to stay in the US to care for Chelsea.
"This is a happy ending, but it is not really a permanent solution. We are still looking for a congressman or senator to sponsor a private bill. There are no provisions within the INS for cases like these," Riccardi said.
Soon after she received her temporary parole, Reddy hit another snag. The visa requires her to travel outside the United States. But she cannot drive and her daughter’s condition makes it difficult for her to travel by airplane, ship or train.
So in stepped New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt. The upstate assemblyman, who represents Buffalo, read reports of Schumer’s involvement and decided to pitch in. After a few calls, Hoyt had organized a private chauffeur-driven limousine to take Reddy and her daughter from New York to Buffalo. The mother and daughter will also be given a tour of Niagara Falls, a luncheon at the Irish Center and a trip to Buffalo Zoo.
"I think she deserves this. It’s been a trying time for Chelsea and her mother, so we thought let’s make this a Christmas they won’t forget," Hoyt said.