26 May 2014

Remembering the right to Immigrate this Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, remember that American soldiers died so that ALL people could enjoy the right to live as families, to contribute to the world around them, and so that people do not have to hide from oppressive government. Unfortunately, many Americans think that Memorial Day is a day that we celebrate how much better US Citizens are than everyone else, and how important it is that we don't let anyone else into our country. (A little harsh I know, but see my explanation below).

Here is a story about an undocumented man who was just deported this month, leaving behind a U.S. Citizen spouse who suffers an uncertain future. Use this link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-other-side-of-deportation-an-american-struggles-to-prepare-for-life-without-husband/2014/05/24/12de381e-e1ab-11e3-8dcc-d6b7fede081a_story.html

My wife and I were only apart for 16 months, because the U.S. government would not allow her to re-enter the country after our first trip to see her family together. We were allowed to file a case with USCIS and I kept working in the US, and visiting her about every six months. It was hard, especially for her. I tried to keep my mind on my to-do list like Zunaid (deported in the above article), thinking just as he said "we will be okay." I visited my members of congress, consulted with lawyers, sought support among local church members, friends, and family. My wife is a lawful permanent resident now, but many of our friends are not so blessed.

Our friend Madina had her husband deported for a minimum of 10 years. Their appeal was denied because of a minor immigration technicality that was introduced in 1996. This 1996 law states that non-criminal violations of immigration policy such as staying over on a visa will no longer be forgiven for those married to a U.S. citizen. The best people, the most community service minded, the most faithful and loving, can now be deported for things as simple as a traffic stop, if they have an immigration policy infraction from anytime in their life. Most people feel sympathetic once they know someone who went through this, but some of my so-called "friends" still comment that it is the fault of the U.S. citizen. They say we could move to our spouse's country. They say, it was our fault to marry the person to begin with. They say we get what was coming to us. Are you ready for what is coming to you? (Not a threat, just something to ponder--whether we are really better or more important/forgivable than anyone else around us.)

Many of us--who suffer from immigration policy--in this position feel that most of our politicians are no better than the Internet trolls who post comments to say that it is the fault of the family. They say we get what was coming to us. They say that if we love our spouses, we would leave behind our sick, dying, or disabled family members; we would leave behind our careers which we spent several years to get specialized in; we would go into countries where we can't speak the language; we would go into countries where our spouses left because they did not want to live there or it was dangerous; we would go there if we really love them. They say it is our fault for getting married in the first place. They say law is God and law comes first.

Some of our friends make considerate comments about how horrible the current laws are. Most of our friends don't have anything to say at all. Some few friends insist on posting bigoted comments like the ones posted on the article linked to above. And other friends still do not post anything nasty to us directly, but I notice the posts in my news feed that talk about how "illegals" are stealing our jobs and should all be sent home or some other anti-reform posts which masquerade as American pride or conservatism. Those posts do not target my family specifically, but those posts do imply an attitude of holier-than-thou and a lack of well-reasoned compassion.

Sometimes when we have been lobbying for years and we have no common-sense bills being moved past committee, sometimes we think that our politicians are just as clueless as the chat room trolls. And it is easy to believe it. They have a lot of other issues on their minds. The world is full of evil. There are murders that suggest a need for gun control. There is drug violence and a lowering of IQ that suggests a need for drug debate. There are issues about education, work, marriage rights. There are issues in these very politicians families. Perhaps they have a rebellious child, perhaps they have a dying mother. There are organ harvesting schemes, and rumors of nuclear attack, and political game playing, and the list never ends. I am not surprised that US citizen mixed status families are really not getting their due of attention, but as one who was apart from his wife for 16 months, I wish it was different.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think it's pretty easy to get on board with the idea of reform and "common sense" bills, but I don't know what those things would actually look like. Why not write a post outlining your concrete suggestions for how exactly things can and should be fixed? I've seen a lot of virtual ink about the problems of immigration and it's easy to sympathize with families whom these issues affect. But there seem to be more posts about how "broken" everything is than concrete suggestions for what should be fixed and how. I'm all ears to your suggestions.


Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.