Lawnmower man Rodney Smith refused Green Card
A Bermudian who has dedicated the last five years to public service in the US yesterday faced being kicked out of the country after his Green Card application was denied.
Rodney Smith has toured America nine times providing free lawn mowing services to the elderly, disabled, single parents, and veterans through his foundation Raising Men Lawn Care Service.
But Mr Smith, who was brought up in Bermuda but has lived in the US for 15 years, said his application was denied by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services because it did not “find the beneficiary to be an individual of extraordinary ability.”
Mr Smith, sent a letter of gratitude two years ago by President Donald Trump for his charitable work, said he would appeal the decision and, if that failed, would take his case to a Federal Court.
He has also launched a letter campaign and appealed to the thousands of people he has helped to write letters of support.
He told The Royal Gazette: “I am looking for an immigration lawyer to take up my case – hopefully something will work out.
“I believe what we do is unique and exceptional – we are encouraging kids around US to do community service.
“We have had 1,300 kids taking part in the programme, mostly in the United States of America.”
Mr Smith, 31, originally from Warwick, added: “I want to grow the organisation and get it into schools. There’s so much more that can be done to put kids on a positive path and help people in need.
“College and high schools require community service – what better way to do it than this?”
Mr Smith said he had posted his appeal for public support on Facebook yesterday.
He added: “I have already had good feedback and people are reaching out to people they know.”
The post had attracted 1,500 comments, 3,600 shares and 5,600 likes by yesterday afternoon.
He wrote on Facebook: “I am sharing this not to boast but because I have only just begun. I have so much more I want to accomplish.
“The RMLCS family has created a movement.
“Not only are we helping people but we are teaching children how they can make a difference in their communities.
“I made a promise to each kid who finished the Challenge that I would deliver new lawn equipment.
“I want to see that promise through. I continue to believe that what we do makes a difference. Our mission is far from complete.
“I want to continue this work as a legal citizen of the greatest country in the world, and I want to continue to encourage kids.
“To accomplish this, I need your help.
“I need to start a letter-writing campaign. I need people who have been positively impacted by my foundation or people who are aware of the work of the foundation to write letters of support, stating the exceptional services the foundation provides to communities around the Unites States.”
Mr Smith started his charitable work in 2015 after he decided to mow lawns for seniors while he studied computer science at Alabama A&M University.
His work expanded into the “50 States, 50 Lawns” campaign in May 2017 where he travelled across the United States to mow lawns for single mothers.
Children who mow 50 lawns get a free lawnmower as part of the drive.
The 50 lawn challenge now has 1,300-plus children involved across all 50 states as well as more in Bermuda, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Germany, Japan, and Australia.
Mr Smith said: “At the end of the challenge you get a free lawnmower and equipment and I encourage the kids to get out an start their own lawn mowing business.”
The letters will be collected and forward to the US immigration authorities as part of Mr Smith’s appeal against the refusal of a Green Card, which gives the permanent right to live and work in America.
Letters should be sent to PO Box 2182, Madison, Alabama 35758.
Mr Smith’s story has been featured on several news networks and he has appeared on TV shows, including the Emmy award-winning Kelly Clarkson Show.
Mr Smith has also been given sponsorship for flights and hotel accommodation as he travelled the country.
He raised more than $17,000 last year to help 14 families through his programme Raising Hope and auctioned seven custom mowers to help other charities.
Mr Smith said he had also contacted the US Consulate in Bermuda to ask for its support.
The US Consulate said yesterday that immigration cases were handled by the USCIC, not the State Department, which is responsible for diplomacy, and referred inquiries to them.