Trying to come home
One man has found his attempt to return to his childhood home in Aurora stymied over and over again.
Home for David Bergquist is Aurora.
He was born in Canada, but home is Aurora where he grew up. And to his dismay, he has found, as author Thomas Wolfe advised, You cant go home again.
Bergquist lived in Aurora with his father and sister from the time he was 4 years old until he was 19, from 1980 to 1993.
His late father, who raised him and his sister as a single parent, worked 30 years at Johnson Controls in Canby and ran a bicycle shop from his home on weekends.
Bergquist went through the North Marion schools and attended Canby High his senior year. His first job, when he was 15, was refinishing antiques at the former Antiques Crossing, across Highway 99E from the house where he lived.
When he was 19, he decided to go see the place of his birth, Prince George, British Columbia. Thats where he met Lisa, his future wife. They settled in Canada and started their family, which now includes daughters, Arianna, 4, and Erica, 19 months. Every year, they visited his father in Aurora for two weeks to a month.
In 2010, his father died unexpectedly at 56. Bergquist returned with his family for the services and so he and his sister, who lives in Alabama, could start dealing with their fathers estate, including the Aurora home.
While they were there, his wife fell in love with Aurora, he said. And he liked the idea of his children growing up where he grew up. They decided to do the paperwork and move to the U.S.
But then he learned that during the time he lived in Canada, his U.S. permanent resident status expired. It would take 13 years to get it back.
But his wifes father was an American citizen, and she grew up in the U.S. Wouldnt that make her a U.S. citizen? It would have if she had applied before her 18th birthday. She didnt. Her status was not recognized.
They have spent thousands of dollars trying to straighten things out.
In the meantime, Bergquist was still traveling back and forth, trying to liquidate his fathers estate, which had proven a considerable task. His father lived there more than 20 years a bachelor.
My father had 13 motorcycles, eight cars and nearly 1,000 bicycles, he said. He collected antique bikes. We had a month long bicycle sale and sold them at $5 each.
He has been liquidating things for 18 months and there is still more to go, he said.
In October 2013, he returned to Canada for a few months to be with his family and by March was ready to return to Aurora and deal with his fathers estate.
But when he tried to cross the border March 15, U.S. customs officials turned him back. They denied him entrance.
Bergquist said he was stunned. He had crossed back and forth 20 years without a problem.
But, because he now owned property in the U.S. and had money in U.S. banks, they said he was at risk of becoming an illegal immigrant, that he would go to the U.S. and stay there illegally, Bergquist said.
They said he owned a home in the U.S. and had no ties to Canada, he said, although he felt his wife, their two children, a leased home and several cars might qualify as ties.
Bergquist said officials told him if he sold the Aurora house and transferred his money from U.S. to Canadian banks, he could apply for entry.
He returned three more times, trying to persuade the officials, providing whatever documents and papers they might request.
But they were adamant. They turned him down and warned that if he came back again they would deny him entry for five years.
His efforts to legally immigrate to the U.S. had been stymied and now he couldnt even visit.
Its so unbelievably frustrating, he said. Weve spent thousands of dollars over the course of a few years. This was just the final kick in the stomach.
Im not going to be an illegal immigrant, he said. That would prevent him from getting a good paying job and it would not be legal for them to live here, he said.
Were not moving here until were all legal, he said. I wont risk my familys welfare over it.
Bergquist said he had contacted the office of Sen. Kurt Schrader about his situation but had not heard anything back yet.
He and his wife had exhausted their funds pleading their cause, waiting for the U.S. government to give them a straight answer, Bergquist said.
It looks like theres no choice but to sell the house in Aurora, he said. And, I dont like admitting it, but giving up on my Oregon life.