The following post is not meant to start a political discussion/argument on the topic of immigration in the United States but merely to share the personal plight of a single individual. Whatever your personal views on the subject I ask that you please refrain from using vulgar and/or derogatory language in your comments and insist that you be respectful.
In limbo is exactly where I am. Not the theological Limbo as in the place where souls go after death instead of heaven because they did not receive Christian baptism in life. According to Merriam-Webster’s second definition of the word “limbo”:
- a place or state of restraint or confinement
- a place or state of neglect or oblivion <proposals kept in limbo>
- an intermediate or transitional place or state
- a state of uncertainty
My life is definitely in a restrained, transitional and uncertain place; not at all where I’d pictured myself at this point in life.
Three years ago I made the very tough decision to uproot my son from everything and everyone he had ever known in order to move in with family… It was an incredibly difficult decision; especially for someone as independent as I am. For many years I managed mostly on my own with the occasional help of friends and family. My corporate job in California paid well but due to the elevated cost of living in California, it was no longer enough for me to afford my own place so I reluctantly rented a room with a family from Church for my son and I.
My KB and his wife, knowing how much I was struggling to make ends meet, invited me to come live in their home in Texas. Aside from my financial instability I would soon be forced to face another reality: my work permit could no longer be renewed which would make me ineligible to work or even drive legally in this country. You see, I am one of “those” many undocumented persons currently residing in this country. There was so much to consider left little doubt about what decision I should make. However I still found it incredibly painful to accept that I could no longer manage on my own. Dad encouraged me to pray.
Lots of prayer, fellowship with the elders from Church, and tons of tear drenched tissues later my Son and I were on our way to Texas. I had the inward assurance from the Lord that this was the right decision at the right time.
Their home is so big that we can each have a room of our own; yet with the increasing domestic tension it feels like we’re all crammed into a single room. Just the other day my KB had an argument over peanut butter!
KB: “Where is the peanut butter?”
Me: “It’s in the pantry.”
KB: “Your fat kid already finished the peanut butter?” – as he scans the pantry in search of the peanut butter.
ME: “My son hasn’t eaten any peanut butter! It’s been in the pantry since you bought it last Friday.”
KB: “You don’t even know what your fat kid eats. He eats everything around here.”
ME: “Whatever. The peanut butter is still in the pantry. Look for it behind the almond butter.” – as I scurry out of the kitchen to keep myself from clawing KB’s eyes out.
SIL: “What’s going on?” – as I dash past her on the stairs.
ME: “Your husband is accusing my Son of eating the entire jar of peanut butter you guys bought a few days ago, which is in the pantry.”
A knot forms in my throat while tears of helpless frustration well-up in my eyes then burn down my cheeks just as I lock the door of my room behind me. I’m relieved that my Son never heard any of this conversation….I pray.
“Lord, how much longer must I endure this situation? It’s been three years and I have yet to have the means to remedy my legal status! There is a reason for everything, I know that. You have mercifully proved this to me time after time. But this is too much. Lord, be my patience, my peace, my endurance and my faith that I may carry on and wait on You, for Your perfect timing.”
Feeling powerless all I could do was curl up in my bed and sob. First thing I did the following morning was verify that we still had peanut butter. There, in the pantry, was the peanut butter. Upon handing it to KB he then accused me of buying a new jar to replace the missing jar. I thought to myself, “HE SAID WHAT?” As I tried to defend myself I quickly realized that it would be futile and simply shook my head in disbelief.
I am and always will be grateful to my KB and my SIL for stepping in, opening their home and allowing us to live in their home rent free until my situation is resolved. Yet even such generosity does not give my KB the right to belittle us or bully my son for any reason whatsoever. My Son has no need to be disrespected this way and neither do I!
KB’s attitude and behavior reminds me of the kind of dysfunction we lived as children growing up with an alcoholic mother, whom was once diagnosed as manic-depressive and would often dish out verbal poundings for any little thing. As the eldest, I’d take the brunt of the emotional abuse while trying to shield my baby sister. Our dear KB, being the only male, was often praised and built-up – he could do no wrong according to our mother. Though growing up KB appeared to have had it easy, now I’m certain our roller-coaster childhood affected him deeply; especially since he now seems to be displaying similar behaviors as our mother. However, this is a much heavier subject than I am prepared to delve into at the moment. Given our current living arrangement, though, I am concerned about how his behavior is going to affect my relationship with him and especially how it might affect my son.
Meanwhile, my situation has not improved and I hate it. I’m desperate to change it, but HOW?
With an approved petition I am better off than other undocumented persons. Some people don’t even have that! Fortunately Mom was granted her permanent residency in 1988 and immediately petitioned the rest of the family. When I was 17, two years and thousands of dollars later, I received a congratulatory letter from INS stating that my petition had been approved however that according to the Family Unity program I would have to wait for a Visa to become available before applying for a residency card and furthermore that if during this waiting period I got married my petition would become null and a new petition would have to be submitted. At the time I was granted a work permit, only it had to be renewed annually for a fee.
Nearly a year later, as the spouse of a resident, Dad was granted residency, then a year after that my little sister also received hers. Years passed and I reached adulthood, which changed my application status from first to second priority. In the meantime, Mom became a Naturalized US citizen, changing our application status back to first priority. We thought my “number” would come up soon but that was not to be. During her senior year in high school my little sister also became an US citizen. Yet there were still no visas available for me. You see annually, each country is allotted a specific amount of visas, however there are more applicants than there are visas available. So they’ve developed a system by which visas are made available to petitioners according to their assigned “priority date”, and even then the amount of available visas per country are not enough. INS, now known as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has changed considerably since my petition was approved so many years ago; especially after 9/11 and three administrations later the immigration system is not the same and the Family Unity Program no longer exists. Although my petition is still valid I can no longer renew my work permit.
According to the monthly Visa Bulletin my priority date is now being processed and I can now apply for my residency. YAY ME!
The question now is, how am I going to come up with money to do so when I do not have a source of income? The application alone costs nearly $1,000.00 and that does not include pictures, a medical exam, fingerprints, etc. Because I don’t have medical insurance my out-of-pocket expenses for a medical exam would probably cost me another $800.00. If I want to work while I wait for my residency card to arrive I’ll need a work permit which runs upward of $400.00. Hopefully the new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services doesn’t decide that I need to pay a fine for over staying my visa when I entered the country as a child because if they do that would mean at least another $1,000.00!!!!
So here I sit in immigration limbo, an unwed mother, unable to renew my permit per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services guidelines, thus unable to legally work to provide for my own child, depending on my brother’s generosity and at the mercy of his ever volatile moods and behaviors. All emotional turmoil aside, my SIL and brother’s generosity is beyond what I could ever hope for. I AM TRULY GRATEFUL. Yet as my 40th birthday approaches I become more desperate about my situation. Perhaps I should start a letter writing campaign. So what if Bill Clinton replied with a stamp-signed form letter back when he was President or that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez didn’t even acknowledge my letter two years when I was still one of her constituents… or maybe I could start a fundraiser and contact different organizations, and even ask friends and family to pitch in for my legal fund….. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do but I know I need to do something soon!