An Army reservist in Wheaton is pleading with the State Department to reconsider. The U.S. Consulate in Florence, Italy on Monday denied his parents a visa to fly to his wedding in Florida in September.
"I will not have any family member at my wedding," said Maisonobe Fokwa, fighting back tears. "It's terrible."
Jonas Kengne, 63, and Pauline Chapde Epse Kengne, 57, were the only members of his family who could afford to fly from Europe for the ceremony.
"I was heartbroken." said Fokwa. "I have to be honest with you. I have to ask myself if this is the country I have served, that I am serving, by not allowing the parents who are supporting me to come attend my big day."
Fokwa is a U.S. citizen, an immigrant originally from Cameroon. He thought his service to the U.S. might carry some weight. He spent nearly a year in Afghanistan in the Army. He spent several years working for the Department of Homeland Security and the F.D.A., and he's still in the Army Reserve.
"I love America. I immigrated here because I knew the values of liberty," he said.
His parents had round trip plane tickets and a letter of support from U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen. But a consular officer turned them down anyway.
"My parents have three children in Europe. Five grandchildren. I ask myself, what sort of social ties do you need from them to prove they will go back to Europe," said Fokwa.
The wedding is September 2, and Fokwa is still hoping for a miracle.
"Just open your heart and think about how a service member is being treated."
Fokwa said he does not blame President Trump -- his commander in chief -- for the visa denial. He said it was really up to the State Department employee at the consulate.
The State Department declined to comment on this specific case, but said each application is reviewed individually in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act.