Category Archives: Undocumented Worker

Different status, same reaction

Tired and a little freaked out by all the news coverage of America’s “crashing economy” and the “next depression” and how my Roth IRA, although fairly minimal, is probably plummeting lower and lower as I type this, Mex and I flipped, first to BBC News and then to Univision so we could find out a little bit about what is going on in the rest of the world. Immediately on Univision I saw the common picture of Police with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement?) on their back conducting raids. What I found surprising is my stomach clenched in the same way it has for almost 7 years. From the time I got to know Mex (Oct 2001) first as a friend, then falling in love (not sure exactly when that part happened), I have had a knot in my stomach at the mere mention of Immigration Raids.

There was a point in our relationship where we both had to make a conscious decision to move forward, knowing the difficulties that would be ahead due to his status (although we didn’t really understand them until a year before our marriage when we met with an attorney). I knew before our first date his situation but I refused to let that bother me since he was a nice guy, always polite and respectful with a big smile. My friend Conchie confirmed that he was a good guy, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t have lots of girls…. he broke from my stereo type of a Mexican man (which, unfortunately, was always fairly negative).

I honestly cannot say enough good things about the type of person Mex is… He is so generous with his time, loving to volunteer at Ronald McDonald house or with church. He always makes me feel loved and beautiful and never criticizes me (except the occasional complaints about my nasty habit of leaving dirty Kleenex around). He strives to succeed and worked hard at his English classes, even before he met me. He worries about my family as if they are his own. He feels a responsibility to take care of his dad and my parents as well as they age. He is honest, loving, a great cook… A hard worker, sometimes having 3 jobs and working over 100 hours a week. yes, he’s also incredibly stubborn, getting a little sassy, and a picky eater but nobody is perfect.

I suppose you are wondering what my point is with this rambling about Mex’s good qualities. Every time in the past 7 years that I have heard of an Immigration raid I panic. My stomach would clench so tight I felt nauseous and my mind would race trying to figure out where Mex was if I wasn’t with him at the time. I would cry as the news caster would interview the spouse and children of those arrested. I would get angry by the unfairness of it all. Usually people were arrested at work, trying to make money for their families, having no previous criminal history. To be fair, I completely understand the argument that “they came here illegally so they are all criminals.” I do see the point. It is true in the literal sense I suppose. However, as a spouse who knows what an incredible person her husband is, how he helps others, pays taxes, learned English… I just don’t see how we can put any group of people in a box and have a blanket way of dealing with them.

It frustrated and angered me that I knew, even though Mex’s spouse was a US citizen, even though he is an honest guy, etc., if he was ever caught in the middle of a raid it wouldn’t matter… They wouldn’t take that into consideration. They would rip him out of my life, maybe without even allowing him to call me. That fear was constant in our lives. It was especially terrible during the beginning of our relationship when I respected Mex’s wishes and didn’t divulge his status to anyone (or almost anyone). I had no one to share my fears with. The nights I laid awake after the raids at Swift and in southern MN in sheer panic, I had no one to call. Acid burned in the back of my throat as I listened to anti-immigrant people call in to radio shows and make ignorant comments about how “all” illegals abuse welfare, don’t know English, don’t pay taxes. These are the same people who would assume they knew a person’s story just by the color of their skin. That assume all Latinos are Mexican and all Mexicans are illegal.

 Mex never wanted me to tell anyone about his status because he didn’t want to be judged by it, and I knew he was right. It made my heart hurt to think people could hate Mex without even getting to know him at all… Without even caring about the type of person he is… Those people think the only thing that matters is how he got to the US. I just will never be able to agree to that. Never. I believe there is such a thing as forgiveness, and if you can show that, even though you may not have got into the US the correct way, you have done nothing but good things since you’ve been here, you deserve some. Thankfully, the government did grant forgiveness to Mex on April 17th, 2008. I hope some of those ultra-radical anti-immigrant activists can open their minds to the idea of forgiveness and close their minds to some of the hatred that they seem to emit from their pores.

Even though I know Mex’s status is now pretty iron clad (unless he commits a felony worthy of having his green card stripped) I still feel panic when I see the ICE people on TV kicking in doors and holding guns. I still feel violated in a way. Unsafe. Like my family is in danger. I do still know many people who are in danger from those raids and maybe that is why my gut tightens. I don’t know exactly. I do know that I hugged Mex tightly last night, long after he fell asleep and thanked everyone I could think of who supported us in our trip this spring for making his forgiveness possible. Everyone who wrote letters, read our blog, sent encouraging emails, prayed, thought good thoughts, towed our PT…. All of you are blessings in our lives and I think every day how you all helped Mex and I take away some of our daily fear of forceful separation. You all showed us how much we are loved and encouraged from our family’s, friends, co-workers of family =), Trinity members…. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the pit of my stomach.


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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card, Undocumented Worker

Last day in Juarez

Here is a picture of the Mexican pesos. The coins make a lot more sense than US coins because the largest ones are the most valuable. It is roughly a 10 to 1 value (about 10.65) so you are looking at a $10, $20, $5 and $2 roughly.

By the way- His actual interview was incredibly short. They only asked three questions! One of them was if we planned on having kids. I thought that was a little odd. He actually had his interview “on time” at around 8 am but then he had to wait until about noon for them to give him the paper with the results – a rejection of his familial visa application due to his living in the US more than 180 days without a visa (that is how the law reads). Annoying that he had wait for that when we knew up front it would happen and even have his second Waiver interview scheduled.  Oh well. It seems like it would be more efficient for everyone to just skip to the 2nd interview. However, I suppose the US immigration department would miss out on a few thousand dollars of fees. I guess the first interview does serve the purpose of determining if the individual even qualifies for a Waiver. For instance, an individual who has falsely claimed to be a US citizen, who has entered the US undocumented more than once, has committed a felony, or a number of other exclusions, can NOT even attempt to get a Waiver of Inadmissibility.
I was totally excited that he came back by 12:30. We went to the mall for a little while and bought some bread for our road trip tomorrow. We are sooooooooooooo excited to leave this place and see some of this beautiful country!
An interesting story about the El Paso – Ciudad Juarez border area. In 1827, Jose Ponce de Leon received a land grant from the Mexican government on the south side of the Rio Grande (called the Rio Bravo in Mexico). Leon’s land became known as El Chamizal (the name of the park we drove by at the border crossing with the giant Mexican flag). The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, named the Rio Grande as the US-Mexican border from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico. The area then became separated into two cities, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The Rio Grande turns from flowing south to southeast right by the El Chamizal. The south bank of the river was constantly eroding and spring flooding was causing the river to actually move.
By 1895, the entire park was on the north side of the river. It was after the great flood of 1897 that the US and Mexico decided to construct a cement canal and control the flow of the river in 1899, splitting the cost. In 1911, a dispute started. Even though Pedro Garcia, a Mexican farmer, had clear title to the El Chamizal land. It was on the El Paso side and Americans settled on it. The Mexican revolution started soon after and the dispute was put on the back burner. In the 20’s, prohibition sent Americans across the border to drink, drug trafficking started going northwards and the Immigration Act of 1924 signed by President Coolidge put limits on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the US, actually excluding all Asians from immigrating. Conditions were so bad in the area during the Great Depression that officials on BOTH sides agreed to put up a border fence, which was constructed in 1940.
Finally in 1963, after 93 years of dispute, The Chamizal Convention was held and President Kennedy and Presidente Lopez Mateos came to an agreement. It was President Lyndon Johnson who attended the dedication ceremony in 1967. Now there is a Chamizal Park on both sides of the border to tell the history and cooperation of the two counties working together (after almost 100 years, of course).  I guess that means in another 90 years the two countries may come to an agreement on how to handle the drug trafficking and immigration problems that span both borders.

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Filed under Chihuahua State, Immigration, Mexico, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card, Undocumented Worker