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Sunday, April 21 2019 @ 09:00 PM UTC

CWRU prof Marixa Lasso survives another immigration tangle

Panama News By Janet Okoben for the Plain Dealer Reporter CLEVELAND — Marixa Lasso, a popular assistant professor of history at Case Western Reserve University who was the subject of a letter-writing campaign last year when U.S. officials wouldn't let her enter the country from Panama last year, has survived another immigration tangle. U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich granted Lasso's request to extend her O-1 visa, the processing of which had been delayed for more than a year by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Without the extension of her visa, Lasso would have only been able to stay in the U.S. until Feb. 20. Lasso is a native and citizen of Panama who retains dual citizenship in Italy, according to court documents. She is married to a U.S. citizen who lives in Cleveland. (more)

The court action allows Lasso to stay in the country until June, which will allow her to finish out the school year, said her attorney, David Leopold. CWRU officials retained Leopold and paid a $1,000 special processing fee to help speed along Lasso's visa request.

Leopold filed a motion in federal court last month after federal officials continued to be unresponsive, he said.

Lasso has been on the faculty at CWRU since 2005, having previously worked at California State University in Los Angeles. She was in California when she was first granted O-1 visa status, designated for non-citizens of extraordinary skill.

Last year, when Lasso found herself unable to return to Cleveland from a Fulbright-funded research trip to Panama, faculty and students started a letter-writing campaign because of the unexplained reasons for her troubles.

CWRU officials argued in court documents that Lasso is essential to the history department's curriculum and development. Because she is the only professor of Latin American history, students in her classes this semester would lose credits if she was forced out of the country on Feb. 20, during the middle of the semester, Leopold argued.

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