Local News

Green card scam victims fight deportation

Posted February 9, 2010 12:09 a.m. EST
Updated February 9, 2010 12:23 p.m. EST

— Luis and Sandra Vulcan are citizens of Venezuela but have been living in the United States for about 10 years.

They work and worship at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, at 9043 Chapel Hill Road in Cary. Luis Vulcan is an associate pastor, and wife Sandra is the church’s administrator.

Even though their visas are valid, the couple discovered a year ago that they were in the country illegally.

“My heart was pumping when I saw and heard what he (immigration official) was saying to us. It was devastating,” Sandra Vulcan said.

In the late 1990s, the couple was working as missionaries in Venezuela. Church friends introduced them to a man they thought was an immigration attorney from Florida.

The attorney said a church in Florida could sponsor them for green cards. He filed cases for them with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2000.

“We paid him about $12,000,” Luis Vulcan said.

But the Vulcans later learned that the man who promised to help them legally obtain U.S. citizenship was in jail for fraud. Federal agents told them their green cards were denied.

Now, the couple could soon be deported.

“This is the most tragic situation I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been practicing law in this area for over 20 years,” said Gerry Chapman, the Vulcans’ new attorney.

Chapman said it's a hard case to win on the legal merits.

“This is just one of those cases where we think they deserve special consideration in view of who they serve and the kind of work they do and the suffering they've already had to go through,” he said.

Members of Grace Bible Fellowship Church said they hope something can be done to keep the Vulcans in the U.S.

“Their story is devastating, and it's devastating to our church family,” Senior Pastor Norman Peart said.

WRAL News contacted immigration officials about the case and were told Monday that it was being looked into. A hearing on the couple’s deportation status is scheduled for March 3 in Charlotte.