It was while I was finishing up my student teaching at Northern Arizona University that I first met and fell in love with my husband now of seven years. Luis was the ultimate gentleman. He treated me like I had never been treated before and our sweet friendship blossomed into a love that I thought was only possible in fairy tales.
I knew my husband was undocumented, but why would I break things off with my soul mate merely due to him not having certain ‘papers’? As an American born Citizen with deeply planted roots dating back to the Revolutionary War surely there would be a way to correct his wrongs—right? I found out a most cruel and sobering truth that this was not the case.
You see, more than fifteen years ago my husband made a terrible mistake. He found out his US Citizen fiance was pregnant and out of desperation told Border Patrol authorities that he was “American”. Through his marriage to her he was able to procure a work permit. When he later went to his interview to obtain Residency Status the case worker asked him how he came across the border and he told her the truth. He was later notified by mail that because of how he entered the US he now had a permanent ban without any chance of a waiver and was ordered to leave. He knew that lying was wrong but had no idea the magnitude of his actions. He did not leave because he had established an American lifestyle and now had two US Citizen children with his wife. Sadly, she eventually left him for another man.
My husband had been working at the same company for years and he diligently paid his taxes. He had been carpooling to work one morning and the driver had been issued a speeding ticket. Oddly enough, the police officer asked for a driver’s license from everyone in the car. Through further investigation it showed on my husband’s file that there was a hold on him by ICE. My husband was deported just days later.
When my mother tearfully told me the news about my husband, I was in shock. My world came crashing down. How was I supposed to tell my 2 yr. old and 3yr. old that daddy wasn’t coming home? One thing was for certain, I loved my husband with all my heart and there was no way that our family was going to be torn apart because of this.
We eventually came to Cd. Juarez because that’s where my husband had his family and was able to get the best job. We have been living here now for two years. Life is very hard living in a third world country with so much corruption. Because Juarez is proclaimed as “the murder capital of the world” we live in constant fear of the unknown. I do not ever venture out by myself—as a tall Anglo woman who speaks only English I have trouble blending in. Learning Spanish has proved to be especially difficult for me and without much success. Our cherished ‘just paid off’ car was recently stolen. We do not have all the ‘taken for granted’ luxuries like we did in the States, it’s hard to even trust the police here, and my children and I are without health insurance.
It is a very hard pill to swallow that my children and I may never be able to live in the country of our inheritance. Until now, we knew no other country. Though my ancestors fought for my freedoms in the Revolutionary War, though my Great Grandfather was a 6’5 man that wasted away to 120 pounds as a Prisoner of the Civil War doesn’t help our family. My husband is a moral man, speaks excellent English, has a desire to finish his college in the States, and desperately needs to be re-united with his children from his previous marriage—whom he hasn’t seen in three years because his ex-wife refuses for them to come to Mexico. As United States Citizens, my children and I are suffering due to my family living in exile. We know we don’t ‘belong’ in Mexico. However, with American Families United fighting for the rights of families like mine my family for the first time has a glimmer of hope. As Americans, we feel that we should get as much relief as anyone else being considered and be given more ‘Due Process’. There is nothing we wouldn’t do to get in ‘line’ and do whatever we can to legally rectify my husband’s wrongs. We hope and pray that Waiver Reform in the current (yet broken) immigration system can be reformed so that our family can finally come home.
My name is Emily Cruz and I am a US Citizen and member of American Families United who has been exiled to Mexico since 2010 due to the broken immigration laws in the United States. I am one of the many US Citizens who have been forced to either leave their country or separate their families. I hope that this website is eye opening for anyone who may not be familiar with the downfalls of the current immigration system.
My husband, a Mexican national, came to the United States at age 21 in a moment of desperation. He is the oldest child in his family, born in a poor mining town in central Chihuahua where the average hourly wage was under 50 cents an hour. He initially came with the desire to feed his family, but quickly fell in love with the idea of achieving the American Dream. He has always been a hard worker, and in the US, it seemed, that actually meant he could make something of himself. We met in 2005, which was a time in both of our lives when we were ready to establish a family and map out our futures. We married in 2007 having no idea of what was to come. I assumed that because I am a US Citizen, he would be granted permanent residency. I knew it wouldn't be easy, and I knew that there would be consequences for his entry, but never did I imagine that things would turn out as they did.
We attempted to "do things the right way" and right his wrongs, but shortly after filing the I-130, we learned that my husband would only be eligible to apply for legal status after he has spent 10 years outside the country. When we received the news in 2008, we were devastated. Our dreams were shattered. Our only choice was to leave my homeland, the country we both love with our every being, to try to begin a life in Mexico. We have financial obligations in the US (mainly student loans) that we refuse to abandon and were left with no choice but to find a city on the border so that I could continue to bring in a US income, sufficient enough to maintain our financial obligations.
I was able to find work in El Paso, Texas but this resulted in us having to move to Ciudad Juarez, one of the most violent cities in the world. It took less than 2 weeks (13 days to be exact) before I saw a dead body for the first time in my life. I can't even begin to account for all of the horrible things I have experienced since moving to Mexico. They are certainly things that I never would have been subjected to, had there not been such a need for immigration reform in the US.
I understand that there are consequences for the mistake that my husband made in coming to this country, but what mistake have I made? We don't have the luxury of choosing who we love in our lives. Why should I, and my family, have to suffer in exile, practically falling apart at the seams at times, because of the broken legal system in the United States? I understand that these bars were put in place to deter people from immigrating illegally, but the bars didn't work. They still don't work. The only thing they have been successful in doing is separating thousands of American families, just like mine. I am a proud American and feel betrayed by the idea of having to raise my children in a foreign land. I want them to be raised in the United States, with all of the opportunities and rights that they are entitled to as US Citizens.
We aren't expecting the US government to turn a blind eye. All we are asking for is one chance, and some consideration for the fact that he is an essential part of an American family that cannot thrive without his presence.