All my life, I had dreams of true love. It took me 34 years to find "The One." In 2010, my dream became reality when I married my darling Shanold. Five weeks later, wanting to do the right thing & following bad legal advice, he returned to India to get proper immigration documentation. My husband has been away ever since. He has a 10 year bar and a lifetime bar from re-entering the United States. I will NEVER give up on getting my husband back.
Waiver Reform NOW
My name is Dionne Dupre D'mello. I am a United States citizen, married to an Indian national. My husband is ineligible to receive a visa to the U.S. and is banned from re-entering the U.S. for the rest of his life.
What sort of horrible crimes must have he committed to receive such a harsh punishment? NONE. His only transgression is the overstay/misuse of his valid visa- a simple civil offense, NOT a crime. My husband has been away from me, our family and our happy little home for over 2 years now.
I support fair laws and family unity!
Hundreds of thousands of other U.S. citizen spouses, parents and children also suffer the same forced separation of family due to their loved one's ban for non-criminal immigration violations. These bans, anywhere from three years to a lifetime, are disproportionate to the violations they punish. I don't dispute that some punishment may be in order, but the current bans are cruel and UNJUST. Regardless of your stance on immigration in general, can you sincerely say that this isn't so?
I support waiver reform!
As a member of American Families United, an organization lobbying in D.C. for waiver reform, I call for comprehensive immigration reform to treat me, a U.S. citizen, as well as all the others who may get relief in these changes. Please don't forget all the immediate relatives who have ALREADY left the country.
I call for sensible and just laws that value family unity!
"Broken homes make broken people. Please mend our Immigration Laws!" Dana Forrester, Vice President, American Families United
Forget securing borders, forget harsh
penalties and stiff fines for immigrant offenders, forget amnesty--- if comprehensive
immigration reform does not include holding AMERICANS responsible for
employing undocumented workers, then nothing changes. If U.S. citizens
don't respect their own laws against employing these people, then how
can we expect anyone else in the world to respect our laws? If the
American employers were punished as harshly as the workers, I guarantee
shit would be differnent. No jobs available without documentation= no
money for immigrants without documentation= no reason to come to US
illegally. DUH. To solve a problem, you have to stop it at it's source. Otherwise it's just a band-aid. Granted, I hope beyond measure that the new laws allow my husband to return, but I know it will not solve the issue of illegal immigration. And anyone who believesthat reform without cracking down on employers will change anything is a damned fool.
It was spring of 2009, March something. Could have been THIS exact day 4 years ago (gotta check with Shanold on that one. He's my other half that remembers those kinds of things. I say "my other half" not in a co-dependent way, but in a very complimentary way. Where I am weak, he is strong, and vice-versa. I guess that's the beauty of marriage and being with the right one). So anyway, the movie Slumdog Millionaire had just taken home like 5 Grammy Awards. I went out and bought the soundtrack and everything. I still love that CD! So, I was on my way to It's Another Beautiful Day in Mandeville for a mushroom burger, probably listening to that CD. Well right in front of Beautiful Day was an indian restaurant so of course I went there instead...and that's where we met. I found every excuse to go to the restaurant to see him. I would go and do their plants, do free promotional work, and volunteered at the Indian Independence Day celebration. (They celebrate independence from English rule, too. Know what else they do like us? Second lines!!! Well, at least the Catholic segment of Mumbai called East Indians do.) Ok less detail more timeline....by June/July, I was falling in love. We said the first "I love you"s and then BOOM- he dropped the bomb about his immigration status. Or was it the other way around? Did he tell me first then we did the "I love you"s? You know, it really doesn't matter. We were in love and i figured that if this thing was going where i had hoped it would go, then everything with his documentation would be fine. So I continued to fall in love with this super sweet, sexy, easy-going, caring man. Because we all know that when a United States citizen marries someone who's undocumented, it's all good...right??? (BTW, the answer is no.) I have gotten so paranoid of not remembering things correctly after
going through this immigration process. Proving myself and my love to
the government is the most insane and ridiculous thing. It's made me
pretty wacky all around. So we were in love and he was best buds with my son (biggest YAY). In December 2009, Shanold moved in with me, and in May 2010 we got engaged. I met with an immigration lawyer in the summer of 2010. He said Shanold would have to return to India for interview, but that he could stay here until the interview. We would file for 2 visas. One is a temporary non-immigrant visa to get him back more quickly, while the other, longer process immigrant visa finished processing. We got married on October 23, 2010. It was amazing and I will gush about that in another post. We met with the lawyer to start on paperwork and he said Shanold would have to leave ASAP since he had overstayed his visa. Don't know why his advice changed and we didn't say too much about it. He was the professional and expert in this matter, right? Isn't that why we paid him $3,000? For his expertise? Five weeks later, my man left. We filed the paperwork. Five months later we find out the short term visa is in essence null and void because...well because no damn lawyer uses them anymore because the way the law is set up they always get closed out when it is filed concurrently with an immigrant visa. But whatever. next step is proving something else and giving more money. next step is more paperwork, medical exam, fingerprints, background check and an interview. Eleven months after we first started the process, he was denied an immigrant visa. Reason- overstay of non-immigrant visa by more than 365 days. Now tell me...did this lawyer KNOW he would be denied and didn't tell us cuz he knew we wouldn't have gone through the process and therefor, not have hired him? Or was he that stupid that he didn't know the law? Knowing what I know now...this overstay thing is like immigration 101...DAY ONE. He never once mentioned bars or bans. Grrrr. Still kills me. moving along, we file a waiver. they find another inadmissibility for misrep. we get denied. We file again...blah blah blah...we are waiting...waiting....waiting....
Again, I am so bored with this story. I have told it countless times. And of course it just keeps going on and on and on... And it's such a twisted and sad story. I
really wanted to share it with with you in a relaxed and informative and inspriring way because if one person can not
make the same mistakes we did or if one person can change their minds
about the way they feel about immigration then wow- isn't that what we
are here for? I think I was going to tell the love story more so. Obviously it didn't turn out that way. It's quite representative of the way things are though. We really do have lots of GREAT stories of love and romance, of family and friends, laughter and tenderness, but they are all overshadowed by the nightmare of immigration and separation.
But I guess the time has come to stop telling this old
story and start telling a new one. It's spring again. I really, really feel hopeful. This is it. With changing of the seasons I used to be all...
"And I'm lost behind
The words I'll never find
And I'm left behind
As seasons roll on by..."
But now I am more...
"Things are gonna change; I can feel it."
For the first time ever of a new season I feel some something different. happening.shifting.emerging. It's gonna be good. life begins anew.
It's Sunday, March 24, 2012. Yesterday we filed a service request with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency which is adjudicating our waiver). The official processing goal that they set is 4 months. Our waiver has been with them for 4 months and 3 weeks. That's one of my biggest problems with this process. The not knowing. I would rank it as number 2 on "World's Worst Feelings." The worst of course is missing somebody you love and not being able to do anything about it. So it's a different feeling from not knowing the outcome. Will he be denied? Approved? That's it's own separate nightmare. Well it's the same nightmare, same scene, but different character? I got it- It's a different symptom of a sickness. Missing him is like the fever, not knowing when we will have an answer is the body aches, not knowing the outcome is the stuffy head, actual process of proving yourself to several federal systems is the .... well u get it. I am bored with griping about it anymore. Where I really meant to go with this post was to explain how after 2 years and 4 months of going through this process and separation, the closer we get to the hopeful end, most days I take comfort in the fact that it's almost over. Stepping back to look at the big picture, IF (and really nothing ever goes according to plan/schedule in immigration. I'm not just saying that. And it's not just our case. It's just about everyone I have ever communicated with about the process. It's two steps forward, one step back. THE WHOLE WAY.)...so, IF things went the way i realistically think they might go, my husband would be back by his birthday at the end of July. So that's only 4 more months! If that's the case we are almost 90% of the way through this!!! From this perspective we are so close! But of course you try living without your beloved spouse for 4 months and tell me what you think. Four months is a long time. A long, long time. And what if we get to what we think is the end and it's not? What if it doesn't end? What if after all this time, they deny the waiver?
1- I have a 9 year old son from a previous relationship. Should I abduct him from his father, his family, his life and homeland? Or should I just abandon my own flesh and blood?
2- All of my family, and I mean ALL, is within a 75 mile radius. I don't think most Americans get that. Well, for us here in Southeast Louisiana, you just don't move away. Family is too important. I was born and raised in New Orleans. My family is my support, my love, and my life and I could not make it without them. My husband is partner, and I need him here most of all. New Orleans Journalist Chris Rose said it best...
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3- There is no room for me at my husband's house. there are already 7 people living in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 300 sq ft house. You do the math.
4- I have to cook all my own food there since everything must be washed and cooked with bottled water. Granny has already claimed the kitchen for several hours in the day to cook for the rest of the family Whenever I go to visit, my day is completely restricted by the available time in the kitchen.
5- I don't know Hindi. And don't tell me to just learn it. Don't go there.
6- I have a mortgage, student loans, and now thanks to a ridiculous immigration process, credit card and personal loan debts. I could hardly manage to feed and clothe myself on Indian wages, and certainly not cover my debts in the U.S. Hell, I can hardly do that as it is!
7- I'm tired and worn out from this fight.
8- See #1
01/09 husband arrived in U.S. on valid C1D transit visa 03/09 we met 05/10 got engaged 06/10 met with immigration lawyer #1 10/10 wedding day! 11/10 Shanold returned to Bombay 12/10 immigration paperwork step 1: I-130 petition with USCIS 05/11 petition approved 06/11 next stage is NVC affidavit of support, payment and something else?? 11/11 visa interview appointment. DENIED. Surprise!* Waiver of inadmissibility immediately available (immediately available to apply but it takes 3 months to prepare, 3or 6 or 8 months to adjudicate depending on caseload and holidays and cat videos availale on youtube, and then it may be approved or denied). 01/12 hire lawyer #2 for 1-601 waiver. Must prove extreme hardship to US citizen spouse (me) if husband not allowed back in U.S. A depressing, degrading, demoralizing, gut-wrenching process. 04/12 submit waiver of ineligibility to consulate 06/12 Received letter of additional inadmissibility for misrepresentation. LIFETIME bar. Additional evidence requested within 30 days. Lawyer #2 says it's a waste of time and money so we represent ourselves. 07/12 additional evidence submitted 08/12 Waiver DENIED. 09/12 Hire Lawyer #3 to submit whole new waiver packet via new process 11/01/12 waiver received
* This should not have come as a surprise seeing as it
it clearly written (albiet buried) in the law and we paid an
immigration lawyer $3,000 for his expert advice. Come to find our it's immigration law 101.
Illegal presence (overstaying a visa or entering without inspection) by
more than 365 days is almost always an automatic ban of 10 years.
Being a regular ol'
US citizen though, I had no idea. Just like you, I used to think, "if
you are married, then doesn't he automatically......NO! There is no guarantee that my husband and I will EVER be able to live a life united. All my life, WAITING...