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
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.