Like many immigrants who visit my office, Danny had run into problems when he tried to enter the United States.
It wasn’t the lack of entry documents.
It wasn’t due to an expired visa.
It wasn’t the result of a criminal history.
Rather, it was the lack of his ability to speak English fluently.
According to Kim Anderson, former President of American Families United, “U.S. citizens are the most neglected constituency in the immigration debate.”
Hyperbole aside, Anderson raises a critically significant issue that is grossly undervalued by many pro-immigrant advocates.
Simply stated, U.S. citizen spouses are far too minimized in immigration reform discourse.
I was not surprised when Jose lost.
Even though his case had some complicated twists, it was not unwinnable.
What was his fatal mistake?
Editor’s Note: This article is the first of a series of guest blog posts written by immigration reform activists, community leaders, and immigrant families.
Our first guest is Chasity Alvarez, an administrator of Families Advocating Immigration Reform & Unity (FAIR Unity), one of the most active immigrant support groups on Facebook.
We hope you like the addition of guest posts to Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics, and encourage you to contact us if you would like to be featured here.
As 2018 begins, there are several issues which all immigrants and their families will need to face in the coming year.
Before jumping in, I would first like to address a point raised by President Trump last year.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Take the current situation facing Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries.
Over 300,000 individuals who have TPS status are at risk for deportation if the Trump Administration scraps the program in the near future.
Rumors abound such a decision will be abruptly made, with limited, if any, advance warning.
Such an ignominious ending would be no surprise.
DACA is dead.
Or more precisely, the death bed has been rolled out.
In a few months, all that will remain for many immigrants is a bitter memory.
I’m not surprised.
But now is not the time to wallow in self-pity.
What’s the number one cause of the breakup of immigrant families when the immigrant parent is a permanent resident?
Aggravated felonies ?
Failure to naturalize?
When I’ve posed this question at public forums, critics attempt to undermine its importance by suggesting it asks the immigration equivalence of whether the chicken or the egg came first.
Actually, it’s doesn’t.
Rather, their kneejerk response reflects a reckless indifference towards the failure of lawful permanent residents to take actions to ensure family unity.
“You’re not like them.”
What successful ethnic minority person in the United States has not heard that sentiment?
Perhaps it was a statement over a glass of wine at a company Christmas party. At lunch with co-workers. Or at a school function for their children.
As a Riverside immigration attorney, I’ve even heard similar expressions inside judicial chambers and lawyer meetings.
It’s often expressed in the third person.
“But Julio is not like other Salvadorans.”
This perspective has two major flaws.
It makes many sick to their stomach and want to gag.
It can take years, if ever, for the agony to subside. The hurt gets into your soul, lingering in the backdrop to your daily activities, and there’s no running away from the incessant mental anguish.
Deportation is unforgiving.
For spouses of immigrants, the moment a husband or wife is ordered to be deported is similar to the fateful juncture when a loved one is declared deceased.
They must instantly begin to address and undergo emotionally painful adjustments in their lives they were hoping to never experience.
Deportation – like death – rearranges lives permanently.