Real Immigrant Stories
The people below are not alone. Our broken immigration system affect tens of millions of lives every year. Too often, their stories go untold, please read what they have to say. Do you have an immigration story that you would like to tell? Click here to share your story.
“You think of a widow as a little old lady sitting in a rocking chair with knitting needles. When I lost my husband, I was 50. I felt I was the only 50-year-old widow. No one could possibly have ever gone through what I was enduring. I remember not wanting to wash Stuart’s clothes, because they smelled like him. I was trying to hold on to something. I would curl up and cry on his pillow every night because it smelled like him. I would bury my face in the shirt he had worn the day before and just sob. How could he be gone? I could still smell him. This was one of the last remaining parts of him. Life had no meaning, my heart and soul were shattered. I would get up in the morning and pour myself into nursing my patients with nothing to look forward to at the end of the day. I would fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning praying this was just a dream. Everyday I had to face reality, he was gone forever.
In May of 2007, whether it be a miracle, destiny or by the hands of the powers that be, I met someone 10,000 miles away that would change my life forever. It began on an online karaoke site. I would pour my heart into singing songs, heart wrenching songs. It was me trying desperately to heal the pain and sorrow that I was forced to endure for nearly two years. George and I would communicate with each other thru messages, we gradually wound up talking to each other thru a messenger and then telephone calls. Here was this man miles away feeling just as lonely and alone as I was.
George had finally found someone to make his life feel it was worth living. For me, there was finally there was a reason to wake up in the morning. Plans were soon made and George flew to America. The warmth of each other’s embrace is a feeling neither of us can put into words. We were married shortly thereafter with my son and daughter in law as our witnesses. A whole new world for the both us. Our lives were fulfilled. We, in lieu of 10,000 miles separating us, were brought together as it was meant to be.
Our next hurdle was completing the necessary paperwork for immigration to gain him legal residence. Many hours were poured into the forms. Gathering all the necessary papers of proof to show our marriage was out of love and not out of convenience. After three months, George was forced to return to Australia because his visa waiver had expired. The next two weeks tore our hearts apart as he was once again 10,000 miles away. The paperwork had been completed and sent off to immigration. The waiting game began.
George returned a couple weeks later. He went through inspection upon arrival in L.A. and I headed to the airport to pick him up at a local airport. George was due to go back on May 29th, 2008. We had received the paper from immigration and our hearing date was set for June 4th. We made that long drive and felt like it was judgment day. We nervously sat in front of the hearing officer. He looked the papers over and complimented us on the thoroughness of our submissions. He informed us everything looked good, but he would need some additional information before he could approve the I-485.
Nearly a decade and a half ago, George was arrested for being in possession of a small amount of marijuana. The officer stated he would need a court document of the arrest record. On the way home our spirits were lifted with hopes as getting the paper from the internet wouldn’t be so difficult. George called the court in Australia and also sent them an email. A short time later, the court had emailed a copy of the arrest record. I had copied it off and sent it back to immigration. During the hearing George had also informed the officer that when he was 15-16 he had gone for a ride with a friend, not knowing the car was stolen and as a result he spent a few months in detention. Being of youthful status there was no records to present.
The days went by so slowly as we waited for the final decision. George had began experiencing severe pain in his neck and shoulder, after many x-rays and two MRI’s, it was discovered he had herniated disks in the cervical area of his spine and needed surgery. Thus began many trips to the neurosurgeon miles away. Then the day came. The paper from immigration arrived on August 6th, twelve days before his scheduled surgery. Our I-485 was denied. Why? I asked in disbelief. The reason being, we had submitted an emailed copy of the court record and not an original. We were in total shock. The hearing officer had said, “most people get the information off the internet”. We did as he stated we could. Why was the statement made to us, if it meant he would be denied temporary status. What do we do now?
Before the end of August we still had heard from Immigration. I contacted a different immigration lawyer in Syracuse. She reviewed the forms we had submitted and what we had received from immigration. Her final recommendation: “you will be receiving a letter from immigration for removal/deportation.” “call me as soon as you get it”. The days continued on, checking the mail daily and wondering why it was taking so long. We just wanted to get this resolved as quickly as possible so we could get on with our lives.
Then our day of horror arrived on July 28th, standing at my door at 8:15 in the morning were two immigration officers. I went into the bedroom and informed my husband. We were now in a world of the unknown. All I know is that my entire body, heart and soul were sinking back down to that bottomless pit of hell. I watched as they drove away with my love, my life…my husband. I was so desperate, what do I do? Where do I go?
Our daughter-in-law called the lawyer in Syracuse and informed her of what happened….“It’s out of my control, but I can give you a couple names of lawyers that can assist you”. Amy made phone calls, explained what had transpired. Hysteria overwhelmed me as I was facing the unknown. Not knowing where my husband is. What are they doing to him and for God’s Sakes WHY? We never received the final order from immigration.
In desperation, I called another lawyer that I prayed could help us straighten this out and bring my husband back. What she informed me left me in a world of pain and sorrow. Being that my husband came over from Australia and on a visa waiver, we could not file an appeal. No letter was ever going to arrive.
Who can I talk to? where do I turn? My husband has no right. But what about mine? I am a born citizen and a Professional Registered Nurse for more than twenty years paying my dues to this country. My first visit to this “detention center” was the most horrifying experience I have ever been faced with. To sit and look at my husband thru glass, talking on the telephone and longing to hold each other was more torture than words can ever explain. He is not a convict. He did nothing to go against the laws since his arrival two years ago. The look in his eyes is one I see every time I close my eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes that were always so bright and sparkly and so full of love and life.