In the United States of America, the spouses of US citizens can be deported, no matter how long they have lived in the United States, no matter how many US citizen children they have, and no matter how much they love their family.
In Chicago in 2008, I interviewed nine couples that consisted of a US citizen married to an undocumented migrant. Each couple discussed the implications of US immigration law to their families. I discuss this project in this video:
This is one of the stories from this project:
Fatima is 30 years old, graduated from Loyola University, and works as a family therapist, counseling families whose children are in juvenile detention. She likes being able to help people, to give them hope, and to figure out ways to make their life better. Her husband, Antonio, paints houses for a living. He would like to go back to school, to learn a trade such as an electrician, or maybe open a business. But, life hasn’t presented him with that opportunity yet.
Fatima, along with her two sisters, was born in Mexico City. When she was four years old, her father passed away, and her mother decided that it would be easier for her to raise her three children in the U.S. She was able to obtain visas, and they came to the US on an airplane. Eventually, the whole family obtained U.S. citizenship.
Antonio was born in Michoacan, Mexico, in a small town. His father was attacked by a bull when Antonio was thirteen. This accident left him invalid, and Antonio and his brother left school to go to Mexico City to work. They found work in a car wash, and stayed there for six years, until a woman from their hometown asked Antonio to accompany her to cross over to the U.S. Antonio arrived in Dallas, and eight months later, decided to come to Chicago. In Chicago, he spent several months working as a day laborer, until he finally found a more stable job as a painter. He has been in that job now for four years, and works seven days a week most weeks.
Not too long after Antonio found his current job, he met Fatima. When I spoke with them, in May 2008, they had a two and a half years old son and had been married for three years.
Fatima and Antonio came to the community-based organization, Latinos Progresando, to see if there was anything they could do to legalize Antonio’s status. Antonio had been living here illegally since he crossed the border in 2003. Fatima said she is constantly stressed out. When he goes to work, she has to worry about whether or not there will be a raid, or if he will be stopped by the police. This stress is clearly wearing on her, as her voice broke and her eyes welled up with tears as she talked to me. Continue reading…