Visit with Juan’s mother
By Larry Love
In 2009 my wife was arrested by ICE in front me and we scrambled to hire lawyers and fill out forms to prevent her deportation. ICE entered our home using false pretenses without showing a deportation order or an arrest warrant. I have come to find that this type of behavior from ICE is typical and many individuals once they hear our story open up to me, many of these undocumented people are fairly closed lipped when it comes to their experiences. Since then my wife has been issued a visa although it was a difficult road to get to this point in the process.
For years I have been involved with Hispanic scout troops, Hispanic Churches and I have worked with Comuidades Unidas as a volunteer and I have been an activist for Human Rights as well. The stories we hear are shocking, sad and at times almost unbelievable. The stories that I have written about have had the names changed although these are real events as they have been told to us.
I dropped my son off at his friend’s house in Glendale Utah ( June of 2010.) I always like to meet the parents so Juan said his mom was in the back yard and I proceeded to go back to introduce myself and meet the Juan’s mother. I jokingly said wow that carne asada smells so good and the next thing you know I was sitting down with a plate of food in front of me and approximately 12 other people around the long tables looking at the only white guy eat tortillas and meat. I had asked for a Jalepeno pepper and they were laughing that I liked the food so much. My son was embarrassed that I had stayed so he quickly went into the house with his friend.
I like to practice my Spanish whenever I get the chance so I began asking them about the food and I asked her about her family and other children. Personally I don’t go around divulging personal information about our family very often but the topic of illegal immigration came up and they were all ears wanting to know this gringo’s feelings and thoughts were about the topic. After I told them how ICE came to my home and arrested my wife all of a sudden it seemed that several of them opened up one at a time with their own stories. There were still about 5 of them that just sat and listened without saying much.
Juan’s mother has 2 little girls besides Juan and she has started a college fund for each of the children and she has saved up over 15,000 dollars in those accounts and she wanted me to reassure her that the Government would not take that money in the event that she was deported. I of course told her that I could not promise that it would not happen but I told her it was unlikely. It was also unlikely that I thought ICE would ever lie to get into my home.
She had heard of some people that had their money in their accounts taken because they were accused of being drug dealers. Keep in mind that many of these people come from countries were the corruption in the police departments is something that is common place. You can imagine the conversation that followed. In 2010 we were in the middle of paperwork and up to that point all of forms that we had submitted had been denied.
I pulled a paper out of my wallet and showed them how ICE had required me, a US Citizen to get fingerprinted and they issued me an A# (Alien Registration number) Obviously this was an error but they issued me one still the same. They passed my folded copy of the A# around the table making comments of disbelief yet here it was in front of them.
One young man about 35 told me how he had come across the border about thirteen years ago with headphones on and dancing. He walked right past the Border Guards and kept walking and they just let him go. He even got up and demonstrated how he did it. Another time he had walked back through the entrance at the border in Tijuana. The fences now have been upgraded and such and I don’t think this technique will work any longer.
Another told me of how he was blindfolded and had paid a coyote more than normal and had supposedly been brought though underground tunnels that the drug cartels use. If you are wondering how poor people from other countries come up with the money to get to the US I can clue you in. Many of them have friends or family here in the US already working and they loan them the money and after they get here they pay that money back.
They discussed how they used to go back for funerals and vacations where they would visit family for a month and now they can’t risk going out of the country because it is so dangerous coming back in. Just the thought of them not being back in so many years brings many of them including my wife to tears. My wife was not with me on this visit but she cries just thinking about her family that she has not seen in 19 years. When her grandmother passed away there was no way for her to go to the funeral.
I told them it would be smart to hire an immigration lawyer to help with their cases and some of them don’t have children born in the US and for others they did, and this means there is hope but they would have to wait 10 or 12 years until their children turn 21 so they can petition their parents and even then many of them would have to leave the country for that to occur and after they leave the wait time after applying can be over 16 additional years.
For many of them they expressed the fact that they could not afford to go back and wait for the applications to be processed. Many of these people are working full time here in the US and some of them work 2 jobs. Most of them send money back to their countries every month to help support family members there.
Interestingly enough people that believe it hurts the US to send this money out of the country have not studied Macro-economics. It actually helps the US dollar when they send dollars out of the country and many of these countries use the dollars within their own country even though they have their local currency.
I had gone to drop my son off and the next thing I knew I looked at my watch and 2 hours had gone by. This conversation had opened my eyes and when I told them that I was paying my lawyer $250 per hour and they should also hire an experienced immigration attorney I realized how stupid I had been to open my mouth with that bit of information. Looking at the conditions in which she was living as a single mother with 3 children I realized that $250 per hour might as well have meant $2000 per hour. Granted she had saved over $15,000 for her kids college but that was her investment in their future and that could be used for a lawyer although many of these people that don’t have family members here in the US don’t qualify for any of the 9 legal ways you can enter the country so getting a lawyer may not be of any help to many of them. I really try to think before I speak now but many of us Americans take so much for granted and we don’t understand the real stories about these people and what made them come to the US.