In April, when Hafez Almbasher went to visit his ailing mother in Gaza, he was reluctant to leave his wife, Deborah, who was recovering from a hospital stay.
But Deborah, who had just lost her own father, said it was important that he go.
As it happened, his visit was extended far longer than he expected by political forces beyond his control.
It's four months and counting — and he is now facing a deadline of Tuesday, when his six-month visa runs out, which could create further obstacles to returning home.
By June, Almbasher's mother was better, but when he went to the Egyptian border, it was closed. Now, all he can do is go to the border every day to see if his name is on a list to leave the country.
"I pushed him to go, and now I feel bad," Deborah Almbasher said. "I need my husband back."
From Boca Raton, where she lives, she is working to get her husband, 39, who carries a Palestinian passport, back into the United States. She has called the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem so often that she can rattle off the days it is open and the hours when citizens can phone in requests. . .
Exasperated and running out of time, she turned to the Council on American-Islamic Relations for help several days ago. The advocacy organization has started making calls on her behalf to lawmakers and immigration officials.
During a news conference in Pembroke Pines Wednesday afternoon, Deborah received a call from an aide to U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., offering to help.
This buoyed her spirits after months of disappointments.
Council spokesman Altaf Ali also is optimistic that his organization's intervention can move the wheels of bureaucracy fast enough to get Hafez Almbasher home by Tuesday.
"She is in an unfortunate situation," Ali said. "This has affected her health. It warrants a response." (MORE)