When Ko Mya Aye* first came to Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, he was seeking assistance with bringing his daughter to the United States from Burma. He was already a legal U.S. Citizen, supporting himself and his wife and three children. But he knew his family could never be whole without his fourth child safe in his home. As he tried to navigate the complex procedure of consular processing by himself to get his daughter her green card, Ko Mya Aye encountered difficulties. Staff Attorney Rachel Van Tyle took on his case and began the necessary paperwork. She says, “[Everything] went smoothly until he had to get DNA testing.” At that point, Ko Mya Aye received the results of the DNA test. The notice stated that he could not “be excluded as the father” and there was a 99.9% certainty that he was the father. However, as a non-native English speaker, the wording of the results was confusing to him. He believed they were saying that he was not the father of his daughter. He contacted Rachel, distraught, and so she brought him in for an appointment. Patiently, Rachel explained to him his misunderstanding. She says, “Once I confirmed for him that he was the father, tears started flowing down his cheeks. He was thrilled that what he had always known to be true was confirmed by science.”
Rachel says that although this kind of complex immigration process is often taxing on both her and on the clients she assists, outcomes like this are great learning experiences and serve as important reminders. “It taught me that we always have to be patient and sometimes the answer isn’t revealed to us right away, but as long as we endure, we’ll be okay.” Now, Ko Mya Aye and his family have finally been reunited here in the U.S. He told Rachel, “My family is complete again.”
Rachel’s faith undergirds all of the work that she does, but she is careful about how she expresses this faith to her clients. She says, “There’s the saying, ‘They’ll know we are Christians by our love.’ So I just try to show it with real compassion. A lot of [refugees] have been so persecuted by people who have used faith like, ‘I’m doing this because God says that I should do this,’ so I’m very careful not to do that.” Rather, Rachel lets her faithful actions and her dedicated work to pursue justice for her clients speak for her.
*Client’s name has been changed.