With their 2-year-old son's free surgery deemed a success, a Polish family living in Rexburg has headed home, but not because they wanted to.
With no prospect of finding legal jobs in the United States, Arek and Monika Rycerz and their son, Michael, returned to Poland where they will immediately apply for work visas in hopes of returning to Rexburg.Randy and Sherie Schwendiman of Rexburg, who have sponsored the family since last fall, have checked all avenues to keep them here. Both Rep. Richard Stallings, D-Idaho, and Sen. Steve Symms, R-Idaho, were unable to secure permits.
The Rycerzs' son quickly recovered from his January operation in a Salt Lake City hospital, having excess blood vessels removed from his deformed nose.
Polish physicians told the couple their son would have to wait until he was 13 for surgery. But the parents feared waiting that long would leave him with psychological problems.
Donations from local groups such as a Boy Scout troop covered the $3,200 in miscellaneous medical expenses. The surgery and other services were free.
The Schwendimans met Arek Rycerz in 1986 when he stayed with them while performing in the Idaho International Folk Dance Festival in Rexburg.
Several people have offered the couple employment, Sherie Schwendiman said, but they cannot be legally hired without work visas, which must be applied for in Europe.
When Poland still was considered a communist country, the U.S. government might have offered political asylum to families such as the Rycerzs, Randy Schwendiman said. But since the Berlin Wall fell, the United States has not enacted rules regarding immigrants of once-communist nations.
The couple gave up their jobs in Poland to bring their son to the United States.
"They are going back to nothing" in Poland, Sherie Schwendiman said. However, with improved English skills, they hope to find translation jobs in Poland until receiving U.S. work visas.