Wait... Did You Just Say You're Illegal?

I have this very distinct memory of riding up an escalator with Billy at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. If you asked me to bet if an escalator actually exists in this place, I wouldn’t put money on it. But that’s where I’m standing, nevertheless.

It was in this moment that he hinted to me that he may not have all the proper, legal documentation to be living and working in the United States.

Our trip to Santa Monica was about our second date, that is if you (like me) do not count when he tricked me into a date. And while I knew very little about the importance of immigration status at that time, I knew that he was taking some risk by telling me, basically a complete stranger.

Standing on that escalator I remember having the thought, “Well, I don’t exactly know what that means. But I hope that if this relationship goes anywhere, he gets that worked out.”

I was so clueless.

Legitimately, I thought that being an undocumented immigrant was a paperwork issue. I’ve always been a pretty organized person, a lover of detailed lists and clean forms. And, thanks to my father, I understand the dire importance of government processes like changing your driver’s license within thirty days of moving because, you know, you have nothing else to do when you first move. Of course, maybe I should wait a few months and try for a better picture.

But I know not everyone is like me. I’ve processed admissions applications for two different employers over the last six years, and I often find that people struggle to complete checklists and fill out all the information and mail papers to the same person who asked for them.

I figured undocumented immigrants had suffered similar organizational oversights.

I had no idea that, for immigrants from countries like Guatemala, waiting lists to enter the US legal can be fifteen years or more. I’ve since heard it said that parents will add their newborns to the list in case they decide they want to travel north when they get older.

I really didn’t know what any of it meant… illegal, visa, green card, undocumented… all I knew was I had met a guy at church named Billy. And he laughed at all my jokes.

P.S. I've been writing a series of posts about how my husband and I met and began dating. If you want to start from the beginning, click here or you can go to the next post about an embarrassing dating moment.

1 comment

  1. Great Sarah. I love all the pieces of your love story <3


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