Local soldier, wife back in US after border battle

SEATTLE -- If there's no place like home for the holidays, perhaps few people know that more this year than Army Specialist Andy Price.

Price, who is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, has been in the army for four years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Nearly two years ago, he was in Seattle one night when he met his wife, Hayley, and the two fell in love.

Despite being legally married, however, Hayley was blocked earlier this week from re-entering the United States. She tried four times to cross into the country after a visit to her native Canada, but was unsuccessful.

"In a sense, Hayley was treated more harshly because she was trying to follow all of the laws than she would have been if she'd just jumped the fence," said the couple's attorney, Greg McLawsen.

McLawsen said U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned Hayley away because the couple had just filed a marriage visa, and the law stipulates that a person can't come and go across the border while the document is processing. He pointed out the irony that soldiers' wives in the country illegally are now given amnesty to stay.

"Their reasoning is, it's a universal law for everyone, even she is Canadian, even if she is my wife. Rules are rules, law is law," Price said. "After everything I've done, after everything soldiers do, we can't even be with the ones we love - our spouses and sometimes even kids."

After an attorney - and the KOMO 4 Problem Solvers - began digging into the situation, the government relented. Earlier this week, Price was able to go Canada to spend Christmas with his wife, and on Thursday night, the two traveled across the border at the Peace Arch with no problems.

"It's been a long haul," Hayley said, as she stood next to her husband, eager to get home.

The couple said they have no plans to travel internationally anytime soon, but hope to craft a law to help other military families in similar situations.

"It's disappointing and depressing," Price said.