At the beginning of the process, I had to fill out paperwork informing immigration that I would be sponsoring him. We could have hired a lawyer to do the paperwork like most couples do, but I like a challenge, so I decided to go it alone. I remember each time I had to go to FedEx or Kinkos to print paperwork, it cost at least $15-20 each time. The language utilized in the paperwork was advanced, even for me as a native English speaker. The complexity of the first round of paperwork had me ready to pull my hair out. After paperwork comes interviews, fingerprinting, check-ins, more paperwork and more money.
Our “green card” interview was easy peasy. After the interview, I was relieved and thought, “Wow, this is it?” We had been very stressed about the interview process, due to all the horror stories and talk of things that could go wrong. The “green card” interview can determine if your spouse will be able to stay in this country or not, and even though we had done everything right, we were still concerned over all the “what ifs?”
While waiting for our interview that day, I felt empathy for all the families and couples in the waiting room. I hope they all received good news from their interviews, but I knew it wouldn’t likely be the case even though getting to this pivotal interview cost them thousands of dollars in lawyer fees and paperwork fees.
Immigration in 2019 is already complicated. On top of the pre-existing complication, there are reports of immigration officials targeting applicants during their “green card” interviews. The ACLU has reported that immigration officials have targeted at least five couples who showed up for an immigration interview, only to have their spouse deported afterwards. It has been reported that after the interview, the spouse who had applied for a green card was put into shackles and deported. Some folks who were deported had children, one in particular had two, and the mother (US citizen) had zero time to prepare for being a single mother. This is happening because the person pursing a green card was previously undocumented and subsequently filed proper paperwork with immigration. For immigration officials to do this to people who’ve spent time and money trying to do the right thing is shameful.
I’ve been on construction sites, in restaurants, and stores where undocumented people are working. Undocumented folks work hard on construction sites, in restaurants and in stores. They work from before the sun comes up to after the sun goes down. Choose any restaurant. Go in the back and more than likely you’ll find Latinx folk prepping and cooking the food. Many cashiers in North Carolina stores are undocumented? Do you think these folks work 40 hours a week? I know many who work 80-90 hours a week and some of those folks work with no days off.
In eastern NC, there are many undocumented people who work on farms, and which allows us to have produce in our stores. When a major storm approaches our coast, these farm workers are often left to fend for themselves, after their employers evacuate to safety which supports a lack of regard for immigrant lives.
Someone recently commented that if all the nonprofits closed in one day our US economy would collapse which seems reasonable to me. On the other hand, if all of the undocumented folks decided collectively to leave this country in one day, I believe our economy would collapse.
These folks work alongside “citizens” everyday. We’d go to restaurants that were severely and perpetually understaffed. Who would help build homes? Who would provide the produce needed to survive? Who would be at the counter to check you out? Since these folks contribute to keeping businesses running, why aren’t we changing US policies to assist them in becoming “lawful” citizens? Why are we being so exclusionary?
Undocumented folks and their families deserve for us to work together to update and change laws so they’re easier to navigate and more inclusive. The sooner they are citizens, the sooner they don’t have to worry about being separated from their children. The sooner they don’t have to worry about their employer withholding their paycheck just because they can. The sooner they can say no to 80-90 hour work weeks and the sooner they can say no to dangerous work conditions.
Nicki Faircloth originates from Scotland/Robeson Counties, and received her undergrad degree in International and Global Studies from the UNCG. In recent years has worked alongside her people to protect their ancestral lands, as well as pushing unification amongst all people. She enjoys videography, studying spiritual teachings, and connecting with the spiritual realm. Ericka lives in Raleigh with her husband, Fares, and their dog Charro.