"How is a mother supposed to react when she is told that one of her children is to be separated from her and the rest of the family?"
Yesterday the New York Times featured an article on families facing separation including Glenys and Curtis Old from West Virginia, who have been fighting for the past four years to keep their son Michael, a British citizen, in the United States.
"Just because it took them so long to process a piece of paper is why we are being torn apart," said Mr. Old. >To read the full article click here.
This Mother's Day, Mrs. Old shared her experience at an Interfaith Immigration Coalition vigil in Lafayette Park by the White House. >To view a slideshow click here.
This is her story...
"When the Interfaith Immigration Coalition contacted me and asked if I wanted to attend this prayer vigil, on Mother's Day, I didn't hesitate in my response. You see, this may be the last Mother's Day I get to spend with my son, here in the United States.
I pray every day that, guided by God, our legislators will show some humanity, kindness, caring, and common-sense in the way immigration law and policy is enforced in this country.
Then I was asked if I would speak at this vigil and if I could spend a little time talking about the situation my family is in. I'm not a public speaker and I was concerned that I would make a complete fool of myself! But, with my son in Removal Proceedings, who has done NOTHING wrong, and requests for help falling on deaf ears, I felt that I HAD to speak.
As a Christian, I truly believe the words "Do what is right - God will do the rest!" As a family, I believe we have done what is right and now I am here to ask God to do his part. I ask, not only for myself, but for all other families who find themselves at the mercy of OUR country's immigration laws and policies.
I say "OUR" country, because my daughter and myself are naturalized citizens of the United States and my husband is a citizen by birth. As a family the United States is our home.
To become a naturalized citizen of the US you are expected to meet certain requirements, such as:
1. a period of continuous residence
2. an ability to read, write, and speak English;
3. good moral character;
4. attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
My children and I met those requirements. However, my son was not even given the chance to become a US citizen - instead, he's been placed in removal proceedings. He is to be deported.
He was born and raised in England and has lived in this country for over 4 years now.
He epitomizes good moral character - he's kind, honest and law-abiding. He's hard-working and has contributed to the US economy, society and local community. He believes in the principles of the Constitution ... and I'm not just saying this because I am his mother, but everyone that knows him will tell you what a fine young man he is.
But, he has struggled with the difficulties of not being a legal permanent resident of this country. He has not been afforded the same choices in employment. He hasn't been able to build up a credit rating. He isn't able to get a mortgage to purchase his own home. He can't buy a car on finance.
All these things are what any other young man his age would be doing, under normal circumstances. He's unable to enter certain sites where he is required to make deliveries as part of his job and is constantly being questioned about his legal status here. He lives from day-to-day, not knowing what his future holds.
So, why, you may be asking yourselves, are the USCIS deporting him? Well, I can't understand that either. But ...
I entered the US on a K-1 visa, as the fiance of a US citizen. My children on K-2's. After our marriage, I filed to adjust status, as did my children, to become legal permanent residents of the United States.
There were no problems with my own adjustment of status, or that of my daughter, but when we attended interview for my son, we all left that room in tears. None of us could believe what we had just been told. We thought there had to be some kind of mistake.
Because my son turned 21 during the USCIS processing of his application he was no longer eligible to become a legal permanent resident because he wasn't a "child" any more! His application would be denied. The rest of us could stay in the United States, but HE would be deported!
How is a mother supposed to react when she is told that one of her children is to be separated from her and the rest of the family?
How can any government allow a family to enter its country, as a family, and then simply go ahead and tear that family apart?
The Child Status Protection Act was brought into law in 2002. Its very purpose was to stop this happening to "children"(CSPA) who became "adults" during processing. But because the K-2 visa is classified as a "non-immigrant" visa, K-2's are not included in the CSPA's protection!
We truly believe that it was not Congress' intention to leave these children out of the CSPA, rather an oversight, which needs to be corrected now.
Our case is only one example of poor immigration laws that need amending.
Until the law is changed, or processing delays are totally eliminated, all children entering on a K-2 visa are at risk of being deported and many other families are going to suffer the heartache and despair we have suffered.
Back at the time of my son's interview, when we were told that he had "aged-out" we could not find one family in our situation. Not one family that was going through what we were. But, as the years have passed (and several have, because my son is soon to have his 25th birthday!) other families, with this problem, are now starting to appear. Their numbers will grow unless this is addressed in any immigration reform bill that is finally enacted.
We joined American Families United, a group of American citizen families torn apart from their loved ones, in similar situations. In the time we have been members, I have come to realize that there are many, many, families faced with separation due to poorly-drafted or inhumane immigration laws.
I pray to God that my son is able to stay with us - here in the United States. He has done NOTHING wrong and the processing time of his application was out of his control, from the very moment he handed it over to the USCIS. It doesn't seem right, or just, that someone can be punished for something that isn't his fault ... and was totally out of his control.
Shortly we will have a moment of silent prayer for all families suffering hardships under the present immigration laws and policies - and those hardships are varied, I know. But, I ask that you please remember all the families with K-2 children that are faced with having to choose between family and country.
God blessed me when He called me to be a mother! I will do what I know is right and will stand by my son.
I just happen to agree wholeheartedly with Barbara Bush, who is also a mother, the mother of our President, when she said ...
"Family means putting your arms around each other and being there."
I only pray that our country's government, will afford me the opportunity to do this by allowing us to remain here as a family.
Thank you for listening and I would like to wish all the mothers here tonight a happy, and blessed, Mother's Day. Thank You."
Action Step You Can Take
Family unity is a basic value of our country and its laws. Family unification, the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy, will be more difficult under the legislation. Under the Senate bill, all adult children, including those whose parents are U.S. citizens, would not be eligible for family reunification.
Contact Your Senators Today: Click this link to e-mail your Senators take action in support of keeping families together. You can also call your member by using the Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121. >For talking points click here. >For information on family amendments click here.
To learn more about American Families United visit www.americanfamiliesunited.org.