Julie, 7, and Natalie, 3, are our neighbors that live directly behind us. For some reason, they have decided they like coming to our house. I’m not exactly sure why, we have nothing that I would consider appealing to a 3 and 7 year old, but they come…almost daily. Because of this and the history we have with the family over the past few years, we have gotten to know their story quite intimately. Natalie, Julie, and their older brother, Jose Luis, were all born here to their American citizen dad and their non-citizen, Mexican born mom.
When their parents were first married, the couple sought to legalize the status of the new bride. It seemed like a no brainer; if you marry an American citizen, you should get your papers. Unfortunately, this is not as true or as easy as it used to be. When the couple was first married, she was told to go back to her country in order to return legally. As she left the US, thinking she was doing everything right, her leave was incorrectly marked as a deportation, even though this was not what she was told. For those of you that know anything about Immigration you know that a deportation on your record basically means you are blacklisted from the US and it makes it practically impossible to ever receive residency or citizenship. In order to be with her husband and ensure her future children would have opportunities as American citizens, she crossed the border and started their family.Fast forward to today. After thousands of dollars spent on lawyers and years of struggling through the difficult choice of “follow the laws of the land” or be with your children, the family has found themselves in a tough spot. Their mom has returned to Mexico to try and legalize her status once again, but was told she must “wait in line” at least 10 years before she can legally return to the US. 10 years. Her kids will be 13, 17, and 22. The thought of a mother being away from her children for 10 years is unfathomable. As just a friend, I personally can’t imagine missing these children grow up, so to think what it must be like for their mom daily breaks my heart. The kids often talk about their mom and how much they miss her. After they leave our house, I usually have one of two responses to our time with them: I will sit and cry or I get on a soap box and begin preaching to the choir (my husband) about how injustice is alive and well…and then I sit and cry. I feel so helpless; so hopeless. All I can do is love them like crazy while they are in our home, tell their story and fight for reform.