Letters from Juarez: “It only feels right to explain.”

30 Jun

We never asked Lupe to explain; we only asked her to write. Now, her experience has brought her to the point where it would be a good thing to answer some questions that have been coming her way, both before and after she started sending us dispatches from south of the border. If you have had questions about Lupe, about citizenship, about going to Juarez and not staying here, they are probably answered in the following.

June 23, 2009

I had planned on writing about some conversations I’ve had with my family in regards to religion, which many know is a touchy subject, but my heart is telling me to answer some unanswered questions. After receiving many emails in regards to my current situation, it only feels right to explain.

Many people do not understand how someone who grew up in the United States, lived there for 20 years, went to school there, had kids and got married there would be denied a Resident Visa. Others have asked me, “If you get married to a US citizen, doesn’t that automatically give you citizenship?”

These are great points, but that’s not how the law works anymore. Many people who have gone through this process in the past abused the system. Men and women alike married random people, paying lots of money for the sole purpose of getting their citizenship. Because of people who abuse the laws, others get, for lack of a better word, screwed.

Right now the law reads that if you live in the US after turning 18 years old for more than a year, you could get a 3-year, 10-year or lifetime ban. Of course, those bans depend on many things, like how many years you lived in the US after you turned 18, if you have criminal record, or if you have been deported before. My ban was 10 years because I’ve been in the US for almost 10 years illegally after the age 18. I don’t have a criminal record and I was never deported.

Questions I have been asked time and time again are, “Why now?”, “Why did you wait so long?”, and “How come you had to go to Juarez? Why couldn’t you get your citizenship here in the states?”

All of these are great questions. To answer the first two, I can start by saying at first it was fear. All the “What ifs?” Later, we would talk to lawyers and we would always hear “Wait for amnesty to pass. Congress might pass a new law.” The main reason was the unknown.

We did this now because we finally got great advice. More than advice, we had help. We got help from my sister-in-law’s father, who worked for the Border Patrol for many, many years. My sister-in-law and her husband asked her father if he knew what we could do, and he gave the answers we needed. He told us exactly what paperwork to file and what a little of what the process would be like.

Quickly, we started the process. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our family. It is difficult and expensive. Looking back now, God really did have his hands on everything. Most people who go through this process say they waited years and years just to get a reply that their application had been approved. We received it within months.

We started the paperwork in January 2008 and now, a year-and-a-half later, here I sit. It took a very short time. The reason we had to come to Juarez is because that is the closest US Consulate to Western US. Yes, there are consulates in Nogales and Tijuana, but they all handle diffierent types of immigrations. Some offices only handle Work Visas, others handle Travel Visas.

The one in Juarez, from what I have heard, is the biggest. This is where you get sent for Resident Visas. Of course when they deny you, you don’t have to stay in Juarez, you could go to a part of Mexico closer to where your family is located, but for me it was better to stay here. Just about everyone on my mother’s side lives here, so it was best for our family.

As for why I couldn’t go through the process in the US, the simple answer is that the only people who can do the processing in the US are those who entered with a Visa in the first place. Even a Travelers Visa or Student Visa. Any kind of Visa. Those who did the process the right way.

Yes, I know the question would be, “Well, why didn’t you do that in the first place?” My answer is I don’t know. I was brought here when I was six. I’m not sure my family knows that answer either. I just haven’t ever asked why. All I can say is things happen for a reason and only God knows why.

My family and I were prepared for this process, for Juarez. After receiving our appointment date, my husband Marco threw himself into research. He spent hours and hours on the computer researching every website he could find. Blogs, help sites, government sites. Everything he could think of. It is because of him that we prepared for every outcome before we left.

I’m not going to lie and say things are great. It is very difficult being here. I haven’t been able to hug or kiss my kids or my husband for almost month, my oldest since May. Thanks to computers, I can see my kids on the web cam, which helps a lot. Many nights I have cried myself to sleep. Sometimes, I pretend to be asleep, wait until everyone goes to bed, and that’s when I cry, when I pray.

I have asked God why many times, over and over again, but I’ve also told him that it’s okay, that I have total faith in whatever plans he may have. It is because of all the prayers, my family and my new-found faith that my world has not fallen to pieces, that I am able to live in peace and to enjoy the time I am spending with my family. That I don’t feel guilty for smiling or laughing.

I just finished reading the Gospel of Mark in the Bible. I’m rereading it because it really got to me and I want to understand it better.

I hope I was able to asnwer some of the questions some of you had. And give some understanding. Once again, thank you for the continued prayers.

Take care,

Lupe

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