I hope that my story uplifts hearts and inspires those that can make this change possible. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.
Being an undocumented immigrant is something that I’ve had to live with for 14 years. Half of my lifetime I have felt like I don’t really have a place I belong or can call home. The United States is my home in my heart, but technically I’m a nobody here, I don’t exist, and I am ready to be heard.
I was brought here by my parents at the young age of 14. I have been here illegally all these years hoping for a miracle so that my status could change. Both of my parents are now naturalized United States citizens, but because they became legal residents once I had already turned 21 years old I was not able to fix my status with them although I came with them when I was still a minor. I put in paperwork through my mother when she first became a permanent resident to change my status, but I had to wait for a visa number to become available which would take anywhere from six to eight years.
I have been waiting for that for a long time, but as I waited I was blessed to meet my husband three years ago. We were married on November 2, 2012; I married an amazing man who loves me and supports me unconditionally. My husband is a born United States citizen, and he is a proud member of our Armed Forces and has been serving our country for six years.
Through him I had the opportunity to apply for a change of legal status. I submitted all my paperwork, received a work authorization and a social security number. I really thought things were changing for me after such a long time. I thought I was finally getting closer to the American Dream. Then a few months ago I went for my interview with an immigration official, a requirement for changing my status. However, during my interview, the officer asked me questions from my application and when asked question nine on page four of form I-485, I responded that I had falsely claimed to be a United States citizen on an I-9 form to gain employment. My application for adjustment of status was denied without a chance for an appeal because I am considered inadmissible under the current law. I am now being asked to leave the country that I call home.
I did not do this with malicious intent and no one else besides me has been affected by that claim. I did not know that that one answer on a form so many years ago would cause me to lose everything I have, everything I know, and everything I have worked so hard to achieve. No one taught me how to be an undocumented immigrant, what to do or not do; I never imagined that I would be living such a life for so many years. But I had to do whatever was possible to survive and make something of myself. I had no other choice. My whole family is here, and I couldn’t leave them behind and go back to nothing. At least here I have my family.
Almost everyone in my family is now a naturalized United States citizen; my parents, both of my sisters, and a few cousins, aunts and uncles. I have four nieces that are born in the United States and two nephews. It is heartbreaking to know that if I leave the country I may not see them again for a long time. I do not want to have to put my husband in a situation where he has to choose to be with me or leave his country. I do not want him to have to get out of the military in order to move with me to Ecuador or for us to be separated for who knows how long. It is not fair. We want to start a family soon, and I do not want our kids to not be able to grow near their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
I finally have the opportunity to live a truthful life, a life of purpose, a life where I don’t have to lie about my status, a life where I can finally be me and use my potential for good things. I am not a bad person; I have never been in jail, I am honest, ambitious, determined and caring; I am a contributing member of society, I pay taxes, I volunteer, and I wish for nothing more than to have a legal identity. I think I deserve a chance at being a resident and having the opportunity to give back to this country I love. Immigration reform is needed for so many of us who find ourselves in situations like this or worse. I do not know what the future holds for me, but I sure hope that I am able to stay here with my family and live the life of a true citizen.
For more stories, visit www.keepingfamiliestogether.net.