Two Vietnamese men hoping to donate blood marrow to their brother in San Jose have been approved visas to travel to the U.S., local politicians announced Tuesday.
Tu Le, a San Jose resident, has been suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that requires the transplant. His brothers were determined to be 100 percent genetic matches, but were originally denied B-2 tourism visas to enter the country.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris lobbied the U.S. Department of State on behalf of Le’s family, and the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam arranged for another visa interview for the brothers.
In a statement, Lofgren said:
“I couldn’t be happier for Tu Le and his family.”
“Imagine knowing that a bone marrow transfer may be the only way to save your life; only to see your brothers, who are the bone marrow donors, denied the chance to come save you.”
The two politicians sent a joint congressional inquiry to the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, emphasizing the medical urgency of the brothers’ visit, Harris’ office said. The State Department informed them Monday night that it had been approved.
In a statement, Harris said:
“I am pleased the Department of State has recognized the moral imperative to act, and that Tu Le will receive the urgent and life-saving care he needs.”
“My thoughts will be with Tu Le, his daughter Diem Trinh Colisao, and the rest of their family throughout the road ahead.”
A petition in his support also gathered more than 18,000 signatures after the San Francisco Chronicle first reported about Le’s condition in early June.
San Jose City Councilman Lan Diep, who represents District 4, contacted state politicians after hearing about Le’s condition. The brothers were granted their second interview on June 18 in Vietnam, he said, and Diep found out about their approval on Tuesday.
“I recognize that this happens across all types of communities, but as a Vietnamese person it does resonate with me a bit more.”
In March, Diep sponsored a resolution to denounce President Donald Trump’s plan to deport Vietnamese immigrants who arrived to the U.S. before July 12, 1995. The plan targeted non-citizens and those who had previously been convicted of crimes.
Diep said in those situations, and Le’s, the City Council will always advocate for its residents.
“I know our elected officials … will do whatever is necessary and in our power to make sure out residents have access to what they need to survive.”