Many of you read my story on CNN iReport about how I Married an Undocumented Immigrant, and have expressed a lot of support and concern. So I wanted to update you…
At the end of August our lawyer contacted us saying that a limited number of visas had become available and needed to be disbursed by September 10, and that Rafael needed to get his biometrics (which basically means fingerprints) updated in order to receive the decision from the judge (and then a green card, if the decision was in our favor.) The attorney made us an appointment at a biometrics field office in Philadelphia for September 4th.
Rafael and my dad went to the 9AM appointment and spent the entire day there because the biometrics unit of Homeland Security insisted that they could not do Rafael’s fingerprints because he did not have a pending court date with Immigration court. Immigration court contacted Biometrics to explain that he had already had his court date, but Biometrics wouldn’t budge.
So Immigration court was like, “the judge said to take this guy’s fingerprints.” And then Biometrics was like, “No! You’re not the boss of me.” So Immigration court was like, “You’re a pain in the butt.” And Biometrics was like, “Well at least my head doesn’t look like a butt. STILL NOT GONNA DO IT!” So Immigration court was like, “Fine, I’ll play by your rules, because MOM SAID TO DISBURSE THESE VISAS BY 9/10!” So Immigration court created a made-up court date notification for Rafael and sent it to Biometrics so that they would take his fingerprints, which they finally did. (I know – our immigration system is cray cray.)
So, on September 15th we received a letter from our lawyer stating that the judge had released her decision to cancel Rafael’s order for deportation. So if you skipped all the boring preceding paragraphs about how it’s hard to maneuver through the immigration system, here is the news. On September 15th, the judge gave us her decision to allow Rafael to legally stay in the United States.
We told a few of our close friends that night and the next day. And I must admit that I thought to myself, “Why don’t I feel more excited?” All my friends were rejoicing, because they love us, and that was wonderful. I just had expected to be overjoyed, and maybe cry a little. But when I read the letter, it didn’t feel momentous, just kind of surreal. It felt sort of like going into labor (minus the excruciating pain and all) – at first you think it’s practice contractions and then it slowly dawns on you, this is really happening!
I called Rafa at work and we just kind of sat on the phone and didn’t know what to say. It kind of sounded like this: “So that means you get to stay, and we just need to get your passport stamped…. <chirp chirp>… and then we’ll get the green card in the mail… <chirp chirp>….Uh… Duh… <little bit of drool>…. Ok? <chirp chirp>”
Then I went to go feed the kids and clean the kitchen.
So, I guess our life will remain normal, which is really awesome news. It feels kind of like being in a really noisy room with a lot of flashing lights for a long time (like a night club, minus the fun), and then stepping into a silent, softly lit room. Peaceful, but I don’t know quite what to do with myself. Don’t get me wrong, we are immensely blessed and absolutely grateful. I think it’s just going to take a little while to get used to the quiet.
When we packed up the kids and went to the local field office to get the passport stamped on 9/24, I started to get all excited. We talked on the way down about seeing his family (him for the first time in over a decade and me for the first time, ever). It’s about an hour drive, which meant a day off work, and then when we got there they told us that they couldn’t do anything for us, and that we needed to go to the field office in Philadelphia (where we might have to deal with our favorite biometrics guy again). We were pretty disappointed that day.
But really, it was just a little bump along what has been a pretty bumpy road, and we were able to go to the Philadelphia office on 9/26 and Rafael got his passport stamped. And wouldn’t you know it, it was the same guy who wouldn’t take his fingerprints. So while Rafael had previously kind of wanted to punch him, this time he told him he wanted to kiss him. So that was awkward. Anyway, here we are, legal residents of the United States. Can you believe it??!!
So I just want to say thanks to everybody for all the words of encouragement, prayers, support and friendship, and for sharing my story, which I think helps people understand immigration issues a little bit better.
And thank you to the local police officer who saw some Mexican guys swimming at the beach early one morning in 2011 in their boxers (I know, I know, who goes swimming in their boxers? Guys who drove down to the beach after working at a hot, stinky restaurant for most of the night and didn’t stop to get their bathing suits, that’s who) and decided to run their names and arrest the one who had an unpaid traffic ticket on his record.
So thank you, Officer, for deciding not to let my husband put on a shirt or shoes and taking him before a judge in his underwear. Because humiliation is funny, especially when it involves such a dangerous criminal. (Note: I am not one of those people who dislikes police officers; I know of many officers who are kind, professional, and helpful. You, sir, are just not one of them.) But really, we couldn’t have done it without you, so I guess we got the last laugh, if you want to look at it that way.
And thank you to the federal agent who told me to go pay bail and drive two hours to get my husband but forgot to tell me that, oh yeah, immigration put a hold on him and is transferring him to federal prison, so you won’t actually be able to pick him up after all. But thank you for telling me the real story when I burst into tears and told you I was about to have a baby.
And thank you to the several Corrections “professionals” who advised me not to pay bail because, “he’ll just run.” Because you know my husband and his situation so much better than I do.
I guess I’m still a little bit angry.
Yup, every now and then I realize that I have rage in my heart, and I try to let it go. But, then I remember that it’s not really about the police officer, or the federal agent, or the people who make ignorant comments about things that are very personal to me, it’s just the injustice of the world, and there are much bigger injustices happening every day. So I guess it’s about recognizing it, and doing what you can to correct it, starting with ourselves.
But to go back to the not-sarcastic thank you’s: Mom and Dad – I love you. Thanks for all of your unconditional love and support. And I just want to close with the words that every parent hopes to hear from their daughter: I hope now you can get your bail money back.
Thanks again for reading.