10-hour trip to Canada ends refugee's visa trouble Widow, 70, left war-torn Georgia

September 24, 1993|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Staff Writer

An elderly Jewish widow, a refugee from the war-torn republic of Georgia, was flown from Baltimore to Canada and back on Wednesday to comply with immigration laws so that she can be with her family this evening for Yom Kippur services.

By this tactic, a group of Baltimore lawyers, working with the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS), managed to obtain a valid visa for Mariassa Razumovsky, a 70-year-old great-grandmother from the former Soviet city of Tblisi.

In the downtown offices of Weinberg and Green yesterday, Mrs. Razumovsky warmly embraced lawyer David M. Morris, who is a Roman Catholic, thanking him for making it possible for her to stay in Baltimore with members of her family and attend Yom Kippur services at Pikesville's Beth Tfiloh Synagogue.

One of the law firm's immigration specialists, Mr. Morris had accompanied Mrs. Razumovsky on the 10-hour round trip to Montreal by way of Pittsburgh -- with no time to leave the airport in Canada -- so that her visa would be legal.

"It was a legal fiction, but it worked," Mr. Morris said.

Edward N. Leavy, who heads the firm's immigration section, explained that the elderly widow, who speaks little English, had run afoul of the conflicting jurisdictions of the U.S. State Department and the Department of Justice. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is part of the latter.

The State Department had classified her as a refugee and ordered her to remain in the former Soviet state of Georgia to await further instructions before trying to enter the United States.

But the escalating civil war caused her to flee Tblisi, and she came to Baltimore on a visitor's visa.

Once here, the only way she could obtain proper legal status from the State Department, the lawyer said, was to leave the United States and return. Hence, the whirlwind trip to Canada.

Mrs. Razumovsky, who has a son and two grandchildren in Maryland and a daughter, grandson and great-grandson in California, smiled and shook her head yesterday over the sometimes baffling ways of American jurisprudence.

But as her new friend -- Mr. Morris -- said, "it worked."

During the High Holidays, Mrs. Razumovsky's thoughts now turn to her good fortune to be in this country, she said through an interpreter. But she also grieves because friends and relatives, including a fourth grandchild, are left behind in Tblisi, where the war "grows more and more."

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