Every now and then, it happens. I've having a casual conversation about cupcakes, and immigration comes up. I'm sure that's a common experience.
It's a 15-year wait to immigrate legally to the US from Guatemala.
I used to be a person who asked, "Why don't people just immigrate legally?" I never had a philosophical problem with folks moving here, I just thought it was a paperwork issue being neglected.
Turns out I was totally wrong. There are only 5,000 visas a year for "low-skilled" workers. To put that in context, in 1910, approximately 5,000 low-skilled workers entered through Ellis Island every day. (Source)
For many immigrants (especially from certain countries), legal entry is simply not an option. I have heard stories of Central American parents putting their newborns "on the list" in hopes that they might receive a visa for entry when they are older. And actually, some would disagree with my 15-year wait statement. That may not be long enough.
My in-laws are not allowed to visit us.
You may confuse friends if you say that exact sentence and it doesn't apply in your situation. But it's true. And every time I tell people this fact, they are floored.
Billy's parents applied twice for visitor visas so they could attend our wedding. They were denied both times without any explanation. After retaining the couple hundred dollars in application fees, the US Embassy simply told them to, "Try again." We have not because of the cost involved and our doubt for success. Sadly, my in-laws missed the births of both of our children.
Some immigrants must leave the country for a 10 year "punishment" in order to receive a visa.
Many immigrants who enter the country illegally are required to return home for 10 years as a part of their legalization process. Billy and I had a scare where we thought this 10 year bar would apply in our circumstance.
However, because Billy entered legally (and was able to pay to replace for his paperwork proving this fact), we did not have to move to Guatemala. This experience points to the class differences in how immigration cases are handled.
Many mixed status couples have a different result. I featured Heather's story last year. Her family is waiting out the permanent bar in Mexico.
I hope one day I won't have any facts about immigration that shock people. Until then, I pray for reform, and I hope you will too.
What have you learned that surprised you about immigration?
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