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Park Serves as Cross-Border Couple’s Meeting Spot

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[NOTE: I put this on my site because unconditional love CANNOT be stopped.  Tony.]

‘It’s just unreal that I can’t go home with him and be with him’

A nondescript metal bench inside Peach Arch International Park is the only place married couple David Williams and Janeane Ardiel can look into each other’s eyes and utter three simple words.

“I love you.”

Williams, a 45-year-old U.S. national who works as a chef in Bellingham, can’t enter Canada because of a 2003 drunk-driving conviction.

Ardiel, a 45-year-old 911 emergency operator from Port Coquitlam, was barred entry into the States in July on suspicion that she was intending to move and stay there and not just visit the man she describes as the love of her life.

“It’s just not the same — being able to see each other for a few hours as opposed to being able to do everything together,” she says. “It is just unreal that I can’t go home with him and be with him.”

The couple married in April after a courtship that began almost three years ago over the phone.

“Sometimes, we talked for hours,” said Ardiel. “We didn’t meet until January [2007], but I mean, we had already fallen in love over talking on the phone.”

After she flew to Florida several times to meet him, Williams decided last October to drop everything and move to Washington so he could be closer to Ardiel.

Being just a stone’s throw away from the border meant Ardiel could visit Williams every week.

Then, last April they decided to get married in a quiet ceremony in front of a justice of peace in the U.S.

Ardiel’s frequent visits across the border continued until she was stopped in July.

It was a shock, she said, because she had checked with immigration to ensure everything had been done by the book.

“I went in and talked to immigration before we got married,” she said, adding she did not marry in order to get into the U.S.

“We checked into the legalities and did not think there would be any issues in filing the paperwork after we got married.”

Len Saunders, the couple’s immigration lawyer, said Ardiel has since filed the proper documents required for a Green Card — the equivalent to permanent-resident status in Canada.

He said the couple had put if off because they could not afford to do it right away. It was something they had planned on doing down the road, thinking a delay would not have caused problems.

Saunders said he’s hopeful that soon Ardiel may be able to cross the border under a visitor’s status while the Green Card application is being processed — something that can take at least six months.

“It’s hard,” Ardiel said of the meetings in no-man’s land. “I get really emotional when I see him. Having to leave is the same thing.

“It’s like being ripped apart again.”



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