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California


Pedro, Rosy, and children

I, Pedro Joaquin Vargas, a U.S. Citizen, made a petition for my wife to become a permanent resident of the United States. With the help of a lawyer I filled out all the required paperwork and explained her situation. They did a criminal record that came out clean, they told us she wouldn’t have a problem when going to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to continue the process and that she also qualified for a program called Pilot.

I really wish I had been told of all the problems she would have if she left the country ahead of time. I could’ve avoided the situation my family and I are in now. I could have avoided all these nightmares we are living now. Let me give you a brief background story.

I met my wife Rosy in 2000 and we dated for almost two years and finally got married on April 24th 2004. Now We are the proud parents of three beautiful children. The oldest being my Seven year old daughter, Genesis (age seven), her younger brother (age four), Daniel and lastly, the baby of age two, Andrea. They are all truly wonderful children, intelligent and innocent. At the time that we began the application process for my wife we only had Genesis, and we were expecting Daniel. We received a letter with the set date for the interview in Ciudad Juarez. On March 13th, 2008 she went to the interview in Ciudad Juarez and we waited for a few hours before she finally was let in. She wasn’t even in there for ten minutes when the officer told her that she was inadmissible into the U.S., at least for the next ten years. The Officer didn’t even give her the chance to submit a petition for a waiver.

Having two-year-old Genesis witness her mom’s sadness impacted her deeply, even for Daniel in the womb. The officer doing the interview did not even ask a single question, it seemed as if he was just rudely judging her based off the obvious, her crossing into the U.S illegally. He didn’t even seem to care to hear her side of the situation, which is why we began the process in the first place. No concern or sympathy was given to my pregnant wife, all the money and hard work I put into everything, was worthless.

As a U.S. citizen I feel that my rights have been denied because my family has been taken away from me I can’t imagine living without my family for ten years. In order to prevent that from occurring I have had to change my entire life around. We have left the U.S; I now live in a completely foreign country to me, just to keep us united. We live in Mexico now, have no family here whatsoever and can’t seem to do anything about it. I’ve written various letters to the California Representatives of Congress, basically begging them to listen to my situation. All I ever receive back from them is an automated thank you letter. I feel ignored, and mostly hopeless.

I am hoping the immigration reform that possibly comes out this year has relief for US Citizens like me who have been exiled to remain with their families. Please treat US Citizens and their spouses who are exiled just as equally as those living in the country undocumented in any upcoming reform.


Maria, Rudy, and children

I’m a US citizen that was raised in Lennox, California all my life. I love my home and country. My city has a high gang problem, but I made it through that war. I survived and dreamt of having the American dream. I would get married, buy a house and have two to three children. I had survived the gang violence in my neighborhood the war that had taken many lives including friends and family. I had made it out safe and I wanted to contribute to my community and to my country.

In the summer of 2004 I met the love of my life, the sweetest kindest man that I would ever meet. Rudy was perfect. Do not get me wrong, it was not love at first site… no it was even better, it was love at first kiss. I saw fireworks and stars. Rudy was living with his grandmother and at the time he told me how he was taking care of her as she recovered from cancer. I thought to myself, wow such a selfless man. He was younger than me by five years, but his eyes told another story like he had lived two lifetimes. On February 2, 2007, we took our vows in a courthouse since we did not have money for a huge wedding. My loving husband was wonderful and took great care of me. That same year I found out I was pregnant. I was so excited. My pregnancy was a very difficult one, to the point where I was hospitalized for a month due to complications. That is when I found out what true love means. My husband was by my side 22 to 24 hours a day taking care of me, bathing me, and cleaning me. He would not let anyone else do that. He said I was his wife and it was his job to do that. I remember closing my eyes on one particular moment when I could not get up to go to the bathroom anymore. I cried and he looked at me and said I love you and I will take care of you no matter what it is. I thought thank you lord for bringing such a wonderful man into my life. We started the immigration process when my son was born trying to get my husband’s paperwork completed. Our lawyer said he would be home in 6 to 12 months. But four years later we are still apart.

My husband has not been able to see all the beautiful things that you see as your child grows. The funny moments, the first days of school, the principal’s honor roll. He is missing so much, but so is my child. I am living in the same neighborhood I grew up, which as a girl it was difficult but as a boy without out a father in your life it can be devastating. As you talk about the sacredness of family please think about all the families that are separated at this time. All the children that cry as they spend a day or two with dad and go back to a life of wondering why? Why me and why all this pain and hurt for one so young when you have the power to facilitate that. Five years of losing hope of wondering if our family will ever be whole. They say hope is the last to die, and it is true but you are left empty and in pain with the whole immigration process. If you are wondering what is suffering… I started this journey a strong independent woman, but now I am a shell of what I was… week and trying to survive to maintain my head above water. Please help us in our fight to get an opportunity to have our families home to be whole again, to be full of hope and wonder about the future not filled with dread and pain.


Chris, Delia, and children

I met my wife at work. We worked together for 3 years without talking. The first time I asked her out she ignored me. About a year later she finally agreed and we married a year later in 2002. My feeling at the time was if we’re in love and she’s undocumented we might as well start the process of getting her “Papers”.

We went to see a lawyer and he charged us $2,500 plus all the USCIS charges and things. She told him she was caught one time in San Luis Arizona trying to run across. He said that it sounded like a simple Deportation and before we even hire him he would do a DOJ check to see if she was in the system. It came up empty and we went ahead.

By now it’s 2004, and by the time we got our first appointment she was pregnant so we asked for more time, when we got our second appointment our Daughter, Elisa was just born, so we asked for more time again. Her 3rd appointment was the first Monday of November 2007. We thought it was going to be about 3 months in Mexico.  We didn’t bring the baby when we got word that she couldn’t go in and neither could I. So we left her with my sister in law. I stood there all day staring at the door waiting for her to come out. It was dark again before she did. And she was crying.  She is a lot tougher than me. She said she saw a lot of people get denied, but she got yelled at. She said she didn’t see anyone else get yelled at. She said he was mad as hell and asked why her husband didn't just cross her over like she was before? So the next day we drove to the Airport and she got on a flight to Guadalajara with a connection to Tepic, and I drove back to Long Beach alone. She was waiver eligible at that time, but you could only make the appointment online.  I finally filed online for the waiver and they gave me an appointment for Dec 17 2007. She was denied the I601 waiver on the grounds of failure to prove extreme hardship. 

So I found a new lawyer to appeal. After explaining our story, he asked "But she’s been there twice and they never mentioned it"? He also said if it does come up it will mean a 10 year ban and she will not be waiver eligible. At this point she had been in Nayarit for 2 years already, so forward march. Back to Juarez. She first had to get another physical and shots all the same shots she had 2 years earlier. There is something wrong with that, when you are paying for the same things that you already got. She was in there for about 5 hours and she came to the door laughing and said the case was ‘asleep’ for 10 years starting from Nov 1 2007. It was a single piece of pink paper with the line 9c checked ineligible for waiver for multiple re-entries. It took a second to figure out what to do. We decided on going to Tijuana so I could keep my job working with my family and not take the chance of abject poverty in Nayarit. Fast forward and we had a son, Itzamal, born July 2011 in Rosarito. Our daughter is in a private school. My wife stays home with the kids. I commute. I’m there every weekend and I try to get a weeknight or two in a week, but it’s hard. I end up spending my time in traffic and not with my family, just at the border. I must have accumulated entire weeks there already.  Is this right or fair as a US Citizen?


T.J., Mai, and family

My wife Mai was deported.

Yes, US Immigration threw aside family and logic for its arcane and faceless laws that cannot be contested in a court of law no matter what the circumstances may be.

My congressional contact, for all the hard work he did do, failed to communicate to me what was happening or even give me the chance to try to petition all of our supporters to call for a pardon. Instead the rug was pulled out from under us and I received a distraught call from my wife on the other side of the border before I knew anything had happened.

When Mai refused to be deported declaring that she had not signed for her voluntary departure, an ICE official informed her that she had indeed already signed it. He continued to explain that she had been lied to several months ago when an officer told her she was signing papers related to her asylum, when in reality she was signing her deportation.

Now she has been given a 20 year ban from returning to the U.S. and our family will suffer much separation and turmoil trying to live on two sides of a dangerous border. I will begin investigating if we can overcome this ban somehow and trying to get my wife setup in a safe place in Mexico.

I can't thank all of you enough for the support you've given us and I will keep you all informed of what our next move will be.  I'll leave you with one bright note: my wife, after being detained and treated like a criminal, after being lied to by ICE officers, and after being separated from her family for such a long time only had this to say about the United States:

"I'm very thankful for everything the United States has given me, and I hope to get back as soon as possible"

Its hard even for me to appreciate my country that much, and I think the U.S. would be blessed with more citizens like my wife who loves the country so much.


Edward, Josefina, and children

My name is Edward Americano, US Citizen, dedicated husband, father, and provider. In 2004 my father decided to take a trip to Mexico, and asked me to accompany him. I jumped at the idea of seeing my father’s childhood homeland. It was there in a small pueblo in rural Mexico I met Josefina just briefly. The next year we ran into each other through a mutual friend. Our friendship flourished quickly and we fell in love. My son Carlos was 7 at the time, when we got married. We soon had our daughter Deyanira and then came baby Martin. My wife supported me with getting partial custody of Carlos, and we had a solid family structure, the fabric of American Society. We went to church faithfully, Josefina volunteered constantly in the community, at the clothes bank. We had our children involved in activities, in and out of the church. My wife like most undocumented immigrants broke the law to get to the U.S.A. We felt that the right thing to do was to bring this to my government and ask for forgiveness. We went to the I-601 hearing to apply for a hardship waiver, in Juarez Mexico. We did not qualify and my wife was accused of a false claim to Citizenship.

Ever since then we have been living a never ending nightmare. The hardest thing is that being a blended family we will never be together as one unit again. I feel as though I am being asked to choose between my children. Carlos does not speak Spanish, and Deyanira and Martin no longer speak English. It has been over 15 months since we have been separated. It is more than any man that loves his family could bare. All of my children are experiencing emotional damage, and expressing it in different ways. The one that hurts the most is my 4 year old because he doesn’t understand. He is beginning to lash out, in anger. Martin feels abandoned by me, and tells his mom that he hates me. When I visited for Christmas for a couple of weeks, one incident with him broke my heart. As I read him and his sister a story, he attacked me with a true rage, and bit me, and I feel like I deserved it. I hugged him and told him I loved him, and he cried for 15 minutes, and told me not to leave again, and if I would forgive him, just don’t leave him. I am asking my government to have compassion on families like ours, and allow a change in legislation that would allow spouses of American Citizens to apply for a waiver to lifetime bans. We are afraid that the immigration reform will overlook us. We are asking for a voice, to champion the cause of true American family unity.


Maria and family

My husband came to the United States when he was 17 years old. He did not have the guidance of an adult to tell him that he should go to school. Instead he worked odd jobs to support himself, contribute to the home where he was staying and send a few dollars to his parents abroad. That is a lot of responsibility for a 17 year old boy. He did well and stayed out of trouble, impressive for a young boy in a foreign country for that matter in any country.

We met in 2003 when we were introduced by my brother. We fell in love. Our courtship involved two states, California and Arizona. I lived in California and he lived in Arizona. We traveled back and forth for a few months until he asked my dad for my hand in marriage (that was a sight to see). I moved out to Arizona where we were married on December 8, 2004.

We built a happy family and a small business together. He proved to be a good father (to my son and daughter from a previous marriage), an excellent provider for me and my kids. He became an understanding, supportive husband and a savvy business man. We did well together. In 2005, I decided we needed to make things right with the law by fixing his immigration status to a legal status. I regret that day a million times over, in 2007 when we left the country for his interview in Ciudad Juarez, Mex. They gave him a 10 year permanent bar for living in the US for more than 365 days with a re-entry attempt. What???? My husband can’t come home with me for 10 years? He is not a criminal. At worse, he had a speeding ticket that was paid on time. People say, “Oh, you did not know that he was undocumented?” Yes, I did know he was undocumented what I did not know was how harsh and unjust the immigration laws where for families. How would any US Citizen feel if they told you that you cannot see your spouse for 10 years for breaking the law (not murder, or rape or any other type of destructive crime)? I would expect to pay a fine and move on with my life.

Well, that was not the case. What happened next, I lost our homes, the cars, and the business. Ultimately, I had to make a choice. I took my kids and moved back to California. My whole family was there and I could count on them for support. I started over from nothing.

We have made adjustments, my husband lives in Rosarito, Mex and I live in California. Every weekend I travel 3 hours to see him and it takes me 5 hours (2 hours waiting to cross the border & 3 to drive back) to get back on Sundays. We get 1 day and a half every week.

I am a US Citizen and I should have the right to have my family together. We should be able to spend weekends together and share family events. On June of this year my daughter is getting married. I will be alone; my daughter will be walked down the aisle by her brother because my husband is in Mexico unable to share these memorable events. My son is in Civil Air Patrol, Air Force Auxiliary Unit. My husband cannot share memorable events like seeing him fly for the first time. See him march with his troop. They cannot bond like father and son. I alone have to be there for him. My son joined kayaking but only weekends are available to go out kayaking. He has to quit because we have to drive to Mexico on weekends or he has to stay home without me or his dad or I have to stay with him without my husband. What do I choose my husband, my son, my country? Why do I have to choose?

In the end, I thank God I have my health, my family and a decent education that allows me to be employable. The immigration rhetoric that “getting in line” and “making things right” is an illusion that everything will be alright. The immigration laws have many caveats that make it close to impossible for anyone to sponsor their spouse. For example, if by a miracle we were able to file a waiver to get it approved would mean I have to prove “EXTREME HARDSHIP”. This means, having health and means to support oneself would disqualify us for the approval.

Immigration Reform should not forget my family or the thousands of families that the law today has separated. Immigration reform must correct these unjust and cruel bars (3/5/10 and Lifetime bans) imposed on US Citizen Families married to a foreign national. Reform must reunify and bring back US families that have been separated or exiled.


Contacts

Kimberly Anderson (President)

kim@americanfamiliesunited.org


Allyson Batista (Eastern VP)

allyson@americanfamiliesunited.org


Steven Zaharakis (Western VP)

steven@americanfamiliesunited.org


Minneapolis, MN 55416
612-715-9833


"American Families United" is a 501(c)4 non-profit

contact@americanfamiliesunited.org

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