Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) announced today that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has granted Father Cathal Gallagher a green card so that he may remain in the country permanently.

The green card has been approved and is being processed. Father Gallagher, who lives in DeSmet, will receive the actual card within in the next couple weeks. The South Dakota congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in June on Father Gallagher's behalf.

"My office received the call from INS today, and we were happy to tell Father Gallagher the good news. It's been a long process and with some help from a higher authority, Father Gallagher can permanently stay in the country. He's a beloved member of the community and it's easy to see why," said Johnson.

"In May, while attending South Dakota Girls State, Cassandra Munger asked for my assistance in helping Father Cathal Gallagher with trouble he was having with his residency. After I visited with Father Gallagher over the phone, my staff and I began talking with immigration officials regarding his status. Today's news that Father Gallagher has been approved for legal permanent residence is welcome news not just for him, but all of his friends and supporters. The outpouring of support over the last few months is a sign of the impact he has made on those he has served," said Thune.

"I am pleased to have worked with Senator Johnson and Senator Thune to persuade the Citizenship and Immigration Service to re-examine its original denial of Father Gallagher's green card application. The senators and I were overwhelmed with expressions of support from people in the DeSmet community and beyond. That support was undoubtedly compelling to CIS, just as it was to us. With his new status as a permanent resident, Father Gallagher is now eligible to serve in the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese, or elsewhere, unencumbered by questions about his legal status," Herseth Sandlin said.

June 7, 2008 from the South Dakota Delegation to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service:

Gerard Heinauer, Director
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 82670
Lincoln, NE 68508-1225

Dear Mr. Heinauer:

We have recently been contacted by our constituent, Father Cathal Gallagher of DeSmet, South Dakota, regarding a matter of interest to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) Nebraska Service Center. A copy of that correspondence is enclosed for your reference.

Fr. Gallagher entered the country as an R1 Religious Worker on November 25, 1997. His nonimmigrant status expired on September 30, 2002. He filed the above-referenced application to adjust status on February 23, 2003. It was denied on February 22, 2006, on the basis that he received remuneration in the form of housing from his employer, the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, during the period between the expiration of his R1 status and April 16, 2003, when he received employment authorization based on his pending I-485. According to Fr. Gallagher, he lived on his savings during that time.

Based on the overwhelming show of support for Fr. Gallagher by his past and present parishioners and members of the non-Catholic community in the DeSmet area, we are respectfully requesting that you consider a service motion to re-open this case. We appreciate that such an action would be rare, yet not unprecedented.

We have been inspired to make this request by the hundreds of constituents who have called, written (enclosed) and visited our offices with anecdotal accounts of this man's spiritual leadership and his profound good works and kindness.

Thank you in advance for your careful consideration of this request and the circumstances that have led us to this point. We remain hopeful that provisions in the law and CIS procedures allow you the latitude to revisit this matter.


Tim Johnson
United States Senate

John Thune
United States Senate

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Member of Congress