Do It the Right Way

Do it the right way. I think most of us want to. I do. My friends who need help with immigration want to. Their family members waiting in their home country want to. Most of us all try to do things the right way until it seems impossible, until the unfairness of it all overwhelms us in a situation. Then we must choose. Do I follow the rules, or do I take things into my own hands? Do I wait and trust in the Lord, or do I believe He will open that door if I take the first step?

I hope and pray I never have to make that decision, especially when it comes down to the fate of a child, because the stories I hear and become a part of break my heart.

Let me tell you the story of “Ana” and her daughter “Sara.” Ana was born in the United States and is therefore an American citizen. However, at the age of three, her parents took her to Mexico and raised her there. Ana attended school, graduated, married, and had two children. Her second child was born with a fatal genetic disease and passed away at two months. During this trying time, Ana discovered that her husband had been having an affair. Her friends encouraged her to go back to the United States. She had a passport and a social security number. She could make a fresh start. Her daughter Sara however did not have such a clear path. Ana had to request a tourist visa for the child to enter the US, and she had to return to Mexico every six months to keep it valid.

While in the US, Ana found a good job, an apartment, and a community of support. Sara started kindergarten. A friend suggested she contact me for immigration help. After listening to her story, I told her it was too complicated for me and suggested she contact an immigration lawyer. If the lawyer stated we could just fill out a form, I would do it for her for free. Because Ana had not lived for five years in the United States, Ana could not claim her daughter as a citizen yet. Ana did not want to leave Sara in Mexico for more than two years while Ana accumulated the time to be able to claim her.

After much contemplation, Ana decided to apply for Sara’s permanent residence, “a green card”. We filed an immigrant visa application for an immediate family member, and Ana made plans to take Sara back to Mexico during Thanksgiving to renew her tourist visa until the resident visa, the official “green card” came in.

On the night the two would re-enter the United States, Ana called me to say Sara had been denied entry. Ana was welcome to return to the United States, but Sara’s tourist visa was cancelled. She must remain in Mexico until her mother completed her five years of residency. The two would have to be separated.

 Ana and Sara were dealing with US officials in Acuña, across the border from Del Rio, TX, where thousands from immigrant caravans flood across illegally daily. She wanted to “do it the right way”, but the system said she should have allowed her daughter to overstay her tourist visa until her green card arrived.

What would you have done?

Another story is not quite as heart-breaking, but still so frustrating. A young man asked me for help applying for citizenship. He had completed his five years of residence and was studying the civics and history questions. We sent in his application and fees, and after several months, he received a letter informing him of his interview date and which documents to bring. He arrived at the immigration headquarters and was asked if he had travelled outside the country. A permanent resident may travel outside the country, and he had gone to visit relatives during Christmas. He answered truthfully, but he was not allowed to enter for his interview without proof of the Covid vaccine. No where in his letter is Covid mentioned. He was denied his interview.

What would you have done?

During Covid, both before the vaccine and since, both when the border was supposedly closed and since, I have driven back and forth to Mexico crossing at El Paso/Juarez. Never once have I been questioned about Covid. Never once have I been asked to show my vaccine card. No temperature scans. No questions about who I had been around. Nothing.

When are our politicians going to stop playing with people’s lives? When are we going to have reform in our immigration laws? So many double standards, so much hypocrisy. So frustrating for those trying to do it the right way. Surely our great country can do better. In the meantime, I would ask that you not use the line about how they should do it the right way. The majority are trying so very hard to do just that.

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