OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma father born in Mexico is desperately trying to become an American citizen, so he can keep his family together.
He came to the U.S. as a teenager, married, and started a family here.
He could be deported at any moment, so we’re not using his real name or showing his face, and instead referring to him as Jimmy.
“With no Social Security number, it's like you're invisible,” he said.
Jimmy’s two kids and wife are American-born citizens. We're not revealing their names or faces either.
The family hired an immigration attorney last fall.
They paid big bucks for legal help so Jimmy could start down the path of legal citizenship.
They paid over $3,000 to immigration attorney Tuan A Khuu, but month after month, little to no progress on the case.
“So, I went into the office, and they told me I had to provide proof that I had paid,” his wife told News 4. “I'm like, ‘No problem,' went to the bank, got a copy of the check.”
Even with proof of payment, things seemed to move at a snail's pace, and then out of the blue, Khuu's office called with an update.
Jimmy’s wife says an assistant told them Jimmy’s petition had been successfully filed.
“I asked them for proof of work or receipt number, and they told me they couldn't provide that,” she recalled. ‘Why not?’ ‘I don't know.’”
According to U.S. Immigration, they issue the receipt once the petition with the petitioner's signature on it gets filed with their agency.
That's important because Jimmy says he never signed a petition or any paperwork for that matter.
Without that receipt number, there is no proof that anything was submitted.
Our camera was rolling as the couple begged for answers from Khuu's law office one more time.
Again, the assistant said they were still waiting on proof of payment.
At her wit's end, Jimmy's wife filed a grievance with the Oklahoma Bar Association.
They investigated and attempted to mediate.
Later on, she aired out her grievances in person to several of Khuu's assistants at his office on North Classen.
“I'm extremely frustrated,” she said. “I have not received not one phone call other than maybe one that I received that I believe gave me false information in the nine-plus months that you've had my case.”
The assistant apologized.
“All I can say is we're sorry for that because that's not how it should have happened,” she said. “That's not how things are managed, especially with immigration.”
The Oklahoma Bar Association confirms Khuu is a "member in good standing."
We spent a week trying to reach Khuu to get his side of things. The attorney did not return our messages, but he did respond to the grievance.
In his letter to the Bar's general counsel, he writes, "after reviewing the documents, we learned Jimmy's wife's income was not sufficient to be a sponsor of her husband,” and "her failure to produce adequate income prevented the completion of the petition."
Jimmy's wife says the problem is no one ever communicated that to her.
“If I needed to I could find someone to be the co-sponsor, that's not an issue,” she said. “I was just not made aware of any of this.”
At the end of the day, Khuu's office made the family whole again, with a full refund.
Jimmy is now back at square one, not one step closer to becoming a legal U.S. citizen.
He is tired of running. His kids are scared.
His parents are in Mexico and getting older, but without a visa, he cannot risk crossing the border to help.
He said, “You're trying to do the right thing, and everything fails.”
Finances and fear kept him from pursuing legal immigration sooner.
Many in the Hispanic community believe filing for legal immigration will encourage federal agents to pursue deportation.
Jimmy is on the hunt for a new immigration attorney to take on his case.
We'll check back.