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Friday, December 1, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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After 10 years in the U.S., Spokane family deported

The Associated Press

SPOKANE--A family of illegal immigrants from Poland who had lived in Spokane the past 10 years was deported yesterday by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Friends of Bogdan and Miro Babinski were outraged at the government's insistence that the couple and daughter Martyna leave the United States.

"They're a hardworking couple who just wanted to be citizens," said Linda Green, a friend and neighbor. "We let every Tom, Dick and Harry in here. We let people in here who are on welfare. Here you have hardworking people."

INS officials said the couple lost court challenges to deportation orders and staged fraudulent marriages to remain here.

"They came as visitors and never went home," said Irene Mortensen, INS spokeswoman in Seattle. "Their claims were denied by the courts, and they're going home."

The family boarded a plane yesterday morning, Mortensen said. They did not have to pay for the flight to Poland.

The INS has no leeway in such matters, she said.

"All the people who are here illegally are in the same category," Mortensen said. "People have to abide by the laws of this country."

Bogdan Babinski worked as a meat-cutter for S&P Meats. His wife worked at the Colonial Care nursing home. Their daughter was a middle-school student.

The family's fight to remain in the U.S. effectively ended Sept. 29, 1997, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to review their case. They were ordered to report for deportation on Jan. 30, 1998, but did not respond.

On Nov. 20 this year, INS agents arrested the family in the home they built four years ago on Spokane's South Hill.

The parents were sent to a Seattle detention facility. Their daughter was kept at Martin Hall, a juvenile-detention facility in Medical Lake that contracts with the INS.

Teachers and some friends were allowed to visit Martyna.

Green called INS officials, politicians and attorneys in a futile search for help. Their daughters were best friends and were on the swim team together.

"She doesn't know Polish, so she won't know how to go back to school there," Green said of Martyna. "We want to help; we just don't know who to call."

Both parents are permanently barred from the U.S. for attempting to fraudulently obtain immigration benefits, Mortensen said.

Bogdan Babinski and his brother, a U.S. citizen, both arranged divorces from their spouses in February 1997.

Then they switched wives and married on paper, while maintaining their original unions, Mortensen said.

Larry Sarff, administrator of Colonial Care, said Miro worked at the nursing home for 10 years and was "a great employee."

The Babinskis arrived in the United States in April 1990. When Miro Babinski began working a few months later, she hardly spoke English, Sarff said, but she became a favorite of residents of the home.

Residents have been asking where she went, Sarff said.

Co-worker Penny Clarke said the family arrived here with all their possessions in one suitcase.

"They wanted to come to the United States to better themselves and make a good home life for Martyna," Clarke said.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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