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I just read an article in the Canadian Express about the immigration woes of mixed couples, not necessarily inter-racial, but where one is an American citizen and the other is an ‘illegal’ immigrant. Contrary to popular opinion, marrying an American citizen is not the ‘fast and cheap’ way of obtaining American citizenship, especially if you are an ‘illegal’ immigrant without a 245-i (Fash can help document her experiences with U.S. Immigration regarding this). In order to process citizenship, the ‘illegal’ part of the family is sent home, and has to wait several long years for the approval of a waiver to come back to the United States. Naturally, most couples would rather stay together than go through this process of family separation that may well result in not reconciling under the law. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that we have over 2 million mixed families such as these in the United States.
Kecia Sales and Juan Marquez are one such couple that decided to undergo the long and tenous process of Marquez finally residing in the United States legally. Under the law, ‘family values’ like love and commitment are not enough to grant the couple the right to live together legally. Since Marquez entered the United States illegally, the law bars him from re-entering for another 10 years, and the government must approve a waiver from his wife proving extenuating hardship to her due to his absence. Sales’ waiver request was denied two weeks ago and she has been given 30 days to collect evidence for an appeal to prove hardship.
“It’s stressful, very stressful, because I don’t know if he’s coming back. It’s just that I’m sure we’re doing the right thing. This is my home, and I want it to be here with my husband.”
Sales finishes up by saying that if she can’t get the waiver approved, she would move to Mexico to be with her husband.
“That’s what I’ll have to do. That’s my husband. I have to go where he goes,” she said. “I love him, I can’t forget about him.”
Besides the fact that the entire ordeal is completely unneccessary and out-of-this-world preposterous, it invokes feelings of déjà vu. I hit the history books to confirm my suspicions and sure enough, only a hundred years ago, American women who married foreign nationals were stripped of their American citizenship! Immigration laws represented the intersectionality of racial and gender bigotry –Even in the 1922 Cable Act, American citizen women who wedded ‘aliens ineligible for citizenship’ (Asians), were also stripped of their citizenship! Alright, the case of mixed families today is not a de jure stripping of citizenship, but if Kecia Sales and countless others cannot get waivers approved for their husbands and/or wives, they would most likely have to uproot their homes and lives out of the United States. Surely, the immigration woes of mixed couples today sounds strikingly like the discriminatory immigration laws faced by inter-racial and bi-national couples just a hundred years ago. (And can I once again sneak in the fact that the immigration problems of bi-national homosexual couples continues to this day?)
Does that not sound utterly regressive and backward? Is it really this necessary to wreck homes and separate families through our unforgiving immigration laws? Why is it that the people who speak about family values and the right to life are not up in arms about this issue? Would the so-called ‘pro-family’ advocates and the Defense of Marriage Act advocates stand up and pass legislation to ease this process and prevent family separation? Or are our legislators just ‘pro-family’ when they need to spew bigotry towards couples that do not fit the norm?