Oscar and I met in December 2001. I was a recent university graduate serving my nation in the AmeriCorps program and he was an undocumented immigrant, working tirelessly to support his parents and sisters in Mexico. After dating for some time, we chose to return to Mexico together, believing that we were doing things the “right way.” We were married and applied for Oscar’s visa.
At our initial consular interview, the officer deemed Oscar eligible for the I-601 Waiver. There was never any hint of a problem and our hardship waiver application was approved. At our appointment to pick up the approved visa, the consular officer accused Oscar of making an oral false claim to U.S. citizenship in 1999 although she admitted that she did not have documentary evidence to support her accusation. Oscar explained that although he used a false identification card he never verbally claimed U.S. citizenship nor used any type of identification that can be legally used to identify oneself as a U.S. citizen. The consular officer refused to hear him and Oscar was denied the visa, no longer eligible for a waiver, and permanently barred from ever entering the United States.
We fought the decision for more than a year. In the end, the consulate upheld their decision, despite the fact that there were clearly administrative and procedural mistakes made in our case and that they had no solid evidence that he committed the immigration offense that they accused him of.
I have now been exiled from my country for more than six years. Our U.S citizen son, Antonio, has only been in the United States on a handful of visits to his Grammy and Grampie in New Hampshire. We currently live in Canada, where I have completed a Master’s degree and where both Oscar and I are gainfully employed, however the pain of being separated from my home and family is painful is unbearable and a constant disruption in our lives. Admittedly, Oscar made choices that he regrets, but we do not feel that the punishment for his immigration mistakes is reasonable, especially in a case where there is evidence of procedural injustice. And as American citizens, what rights do my son and I have? I do not believe that we should be forced to choose between Oscar and our homeland, the United States. All we ask that we be treated as fairly as anyone else in immigration reform.