Four years ago, “my daughter Carrie,” was arrested for being in this country illegally. Along with her older brother and younger sister, Carrie had been brought here as a young child by her biological parents who entered the United States legally. The family had fled Guatemala because of civil unrest in their native land and her father with his family had been welcomed in the United States for that reason.
Over the years, the family grew by two additional children who, born in the United States, were automatically citizens.
Carrie’s mother tried repeatedly to get her three oldest children their own paperwork showing that they were legally independent of their parents. Her last effort included paying $1,500 to an immigration attorney to help her children get their documentation. Unfortunately, her attorney died before informing her of his progress or sharing his files with anyone else. Repeated attempts to find out what he accomplished, if anything, were unsuccessful.
About three and a half years ago, when Carrie’s father developed diabetes and related illnesses, he decided to return to his native Guatemala to die. His wife accompanied him. But his five children stayed behind in their country, the United States.
With his departure, Carrie’s dad took the basis for the legal status of his three oldest children to Guatemala with him.
Carrie was arrested six months after her father left and detained by Homeland Security for nine days – seven of which were spent in Los Angeles.
Years earlier, I had met my daughter Carrie, after she had graduated from high school and was working as a server and “server trainer” at a local restaurant. We became such good friends that she called me, “Mamacita.” After some time, Carrie explained her legal situation to me.
I was in Los Angeles when she was detained there. I visited her on a daily basis in the basement of the federal building in an area that they call, “B-18.” In B-18, adults have a total of ten minutes to say good-by to individuals who are being deported. It is one of the saddest places on Earth.
One day, I saw a father with his infant daughter in his arms bidding good-by to his wife and his twelve-year old son. His son was born in Mexico, one month before his mother came to the United States. Since his mother had no legal documentation and he was brought here illegally, both mother and son were being deported. The family was being split right down the middle. It was heartbreaking. And that was only one story to which I was a witness.
What happened to my daughter, Carrie? Perhaps due to the attorney we hired to help her and, definitely because of our prayers, Carrie was not deported. She was released and placed under house arrest.
For several years she has been forced to report frequently to immigration officials and to wear an “ankle bracelet,” a monitoring device to tell immigration exactly where she was at all times. To this day her activities are still being monitored and she is still under house arrest.
Friday, June 15th, President Obama issued his executive order halting deportation of certain illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Specifically, his executive order allows for a two year “deferred action” freezing a person’s deportation and renewable for an additional two years.
Possible candidates for this deferred deportation action are individuals
• who were brought to the United States without legal documentation as children under sixteen years of age
• who have lived here continuously for at least five years; who are currently living in the United States
•who are 30 years or younger
• who are in school, have a high school diploma or a GED or are a member of the military or an honorably discharged veteran.
Not eligible are any individuals who have been convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanors or multiple misdemeanors or who pose a threat to national security.
Who is affected by Obama’s executive order? Estimates vary from 800,000 to 1.4 million individuals. Not only will they benefit from deferred deportation, but they will be able to apply for work authorization.
Closer to home – will my daughter, Carrie, be affected? I hope so.
Carrie, call me! Love, Mom
Anna Daniels says
Christine- earlier this year I did a mini-Occupy my street in City Heights. I stood outside a couple of days and simply talked to people walking by. What was important to them? What do we need to do to make our community a better place to live?
On my street, a path to legal citizenship, was on the mind of my neighbors and passerby’s. My compadres, my dear neighbors were banished to Mexico for ten years because of their illegal status. Their children, who came with them as young children, went to school here, got married, had children, and have lived in a shadowy nether world. All of them have become citizens except for the youngest. She has not seen her parents for five years and it has torn her and her parents’ heart out. Family is everything. La familia sobre todo. She has tried to go the immigration route, and lost a thousand dollars to a sleazy lawyer. This happens all to often.
I am so hoping that Obama’s recent decision means that this young woman can see her parents.
This is an awful, cruel story played out over and over again in my neighborhood. These young people have names and faces and have been part of our lives.
Christine Schanes says
Thanks for your comment.
And thanks for your compassion for people which is evident in every word that you write.
I agree with you that these immigration cases are so often tragic for entire families, friends and neighbors.
And I’m sorry about the $1,000 given to “a sleazy lawyer.” It does not reflect well on my profession and I’ve heard this complaint before.
However, just this evening I was talking with a very fine private immigration attorney on behalf of a client. And San Diego Legal Aid Society has two wonderful immigration attorneys, too. So, I do know that good immigration attorneys exist – a person just has to find them.
I wish we could all realize that we are all brothers and sisters and end all of this silliness.