I see the comments more often than I would like to admit. It is hard enough that we have to look at negative comments about our situations from the haters, sometimes it’s worse when someone going through this mess fail to see that like all things in life, the choices we make are never that simple. Nothing in this system is black and white, there are so many murky areas in between. Not to mention curve balls, heartache and surprise after surprise along the way. I am of course referring to comments about how some people, including myself, are selfish because we chose a man over our children from a previous marriage and how they could never abandon their children like that. My biggest sin is not being naive, no, I was the opposite. I was arrogant. How could they require the spouse and parent of US Citizen’s to leave the country for processing? No chance to take the lives of 5 US Citizens into consideration in this process . Yes we have followed the law, but that does not excuse the fact that the laws were written to be unjust. How can people turn a blind eye to the blatant violations to US Citizens rights and the basic human rights that are being ignored in this process? Essentially, the choices that families like mine face, do not solve anything. Leave behind your entire life to keep your family together, albeit in extreme poverty most could never imagine, or living separated where you always hurt. Most end up on government aid as their spouse, oftentimes, was the sole or main breadwinner. Some become homeless relying on friends and family, objectifying that family even more. Sometimes, it seems nobody like to talk about us, recently I have noticed some press on our families, however, most are riddled with misinformation and mistakes; the reporter does not fully understand the situation and can cause more problems than they solve. I wonder though, if they even feel a tinge of guilt when the haters are spouting off about how our families deserve this? That we knew the consequences when we chose our spouses. Yes, this is what love is about. Again, maybe I was arrogant, but not so much to think that people deserve to suffer years or life under inhumane laws. Wanting to destroy the lives of hard working and loving people, screaming to deport them all, no care for the US Citizens involved. The thing about it is, our own Government’s foreign policy has played a part in this mess to begin with; Nafta and the War on Drugs has taken its toll and sent many people fleeing from violence and to look for a better life. But hey, they are just all criminals and so are their US Citizen Spouses and Children by association apparently. We are damned for falling in love. What it comes down to is I am nobody. I am just another American woman who is trying to keep her family above water, in a rapidly rising tide of ignorance, indifference and hate.
Today was one of the worst days I have had in a long while. It started innocently enough, with me working on getting documents prepared to send over to the translator (very close friend) for my husband’s immigration waivers. Unfortunately, it took longer than planned and by the time I was done, I had to start working.
Fighting and arguing ensued amongst the entire household before long, including my husband and I. Yes, we argue, we don’t always see eye to eye, which is fine. I don’t expect perfection in my marriage because well, no one is perfect. Anyways, things just seemed to go downhill from there. Today was my terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day.
You see, I was diagnosed bipolar when I was a teenager and have gone without medication for many years. When I am not stressed, or I don’t have too much on my plate, I seem completely normal. But, once I have lost control of my emotions that is pretty much it for the day.
For some odd reason, today, the punches just didn’t stop coming. Emotionally exhausted, I call my sister for some pertinent info on my mom’s medications. My mom who Is only 55, has early Alzheimer’s, today my sister let me know they are doubling her dosage of her Aricept prescription, my mother is no longer improving on her old dosage. Most people would just say, just spend time with her, have the kids spend time with her so that you can get that time in before it is too late.
Sadly, this is not an option for my family because my mom is over 3600 miles away in the USA. I watched my grandmother’s mind deteriorate in her late 60’s and early 70’s. I had the chance to get my time with her; we always knew this was a possibility with my mom, due to her own history of traumas and psych issues. The only thing is, I thought I would be there for this. I thought there was more time and there is nothing I can do about it from Bolivia.
Do you know that feeling where you have no control over what is happening in your life? Like no matter how hard you try to do the right thing, it’s always wrong? Yeah, story of my life.
The last 6+ years has been so mentally and physically demanding on me that I just want it to all go away. I just want my life back, I can’t get these years back that I have lost, my daughters still in the states are going to be 13 & 14 years old and I have missed out on all those years. My children have missed out on loving Aunts, Grandparents and Cousins. They missed out on the life we had planned, in the states. I have done this to keep my family together.
And as I prepare our waiver, I wonder how I am going to handle the next 6 months as we wait for an answer. The threads are wearing thin, life doesn’t just go on….sometimes it stops, and sometimes you lose sight of yourself in this process.
God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Don’t take the people whom you love nor the people that love you for granted. You never know when they will be out of reach, out of touch, or just gone.
Hopefully the next 6 years, will be different.
I am the type of person that gets caught up in life, especially if I am manic. I have to admit, the past seven months have been interesting to say the least. After the entire family did, in fact, contract swine flu I was a mess. Hell, I am still a mess, but that just comes with the territory of living in exile and wanting to go home so damn badly. Let’s play catch up and discuss a little of what has gone on in the city of La Paz since I last updated my blog.
Hmm, just a few days into our swine flu diagnosis the Police went on strike. I am not gonna try and make it seem like it was bigger than it really was, but it was damn scary. I really didn’t want to leave the house for several weeks after that happened. My mom was a cop when I was little and I could never imagine police officers taking to the streets like that.
May I move on to how much the President of Bolivia hates American’s. Yeah, battle cry my ass, living in La Paz and seeing the newspapers, Evo Morales would be happy to see America fall by the wayside. Not to mention his little press conference this past October about relations with the US Embassy here in La Paz. What about how he would like to see happen to the multi-million dollar US Embassy earlier last year. I could go on and on about the President vs. the USA but I do have a point to get to.
I don’t know what it is about me and my kids but we are spotted as American’s everywhere we go. Do we just look different from Europeans? Because they guess before any of us ever open our mouths. Do we just give off this aura or something? I try not to talk to people or make too much eye contact, there is no hiding our light hair or blue eyes and its not like they don’t have native born Bolivians that are light skinned with blue eyes because they do. I promise I am getting to my next point. Since late 2011 we have seen a great increase of kidnappings of minors which makes me hold my kids hands tighter when we are out (we are not allowed out alone without my husband). Our safety seems to be diminishing every month.
We moved back to Downtown La Paz in Sept. 2011 to be closer to the kids school, but it also meant we are closer to all the action. By action I mean protests, express kidnappings, etc, etc. This last year we saw one of the most violent protest in the City of La Paz since we came in 2006. The Miner’s Protest, shortly after the Police Riots, happened within a mile of where we live, including the throwing around of the dynamite. Well, this of course led to me not leaving the house for quite awhile.
Let me go back to Evo for a moment, the President talks such great game about how Pachimama (Mother Earth) has rights how we should treat it with respect, blah blah blah. Look I am all for Green Energy and I believe in Global Warming but Evo does not play by his own rules. Yeah, its just an act, so many of his policies are questionable, he is a true politician. Yeah maybe I am a little biased but he is constantly putting my and my children’s homeland down. I know my country is not perfect, hell what is happening to my family is proof enough of that.
Now to the thing that is really the scariest when you sit down and think about the close ties Bolivia has with Cuba, Venezuela and especially with Iran. This happened right near where we shop for groceries, now what were they planning on doing with all that uranium? And why the hell was it in the section where a lot of American Expats live? The longer I live here the less safe I feel.
This brings me to my ultimate point, family members of US Citizens should not be subjected to years long waits to immigrate. My husband was banned for 5 years without relief for missing an asylum hearing. We have waited out more than our time and we are actually going to be filing to return in a few weeks. I am ready to go home, but I ask anyone that thinks that Citizens should have rights to bring their loved ones home without having to wait, 5, 10 or more years to please sign our petition to eliminate non-waivable bans for family member of US Citizens. I ask this for the tens of thousands of US Citizens affected by these draconian immigration laws that destroy US Citizen families, making us choose between keeping our families together or living the way I do, impoverished and exiled for years. All this talk about comprehensive immigration reform and we are the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about, but we are here, we are not going away and we will be silent no longer.
Despite what many of my friends and I joke about, this is not an attempt to be monitored by the Department of Homeland Security. Besides, I figured they were monitoring me already. I am not exactly shy about our situation, now am I?
Seriously, 2012 has been bad to the city of La Paz and seemingly to my family as well.
In the city, Swine Flu never really made an impact over these past few years; the common thought was that due to the high altitude and the low temperatures it just couldn’t seem to grab hold of the population like it did in other areas. However, something different is happening this winter; for starters, it has been extremely hot. Now, I am from Texas, I know what real heat is like, but for La Paz, this heat was unbearable and we have our first real outbreak of swine flu.
Now, apparently, two weeks ago (when no one was sick) testing was done free around the city. Now though, they cost the equivalent of $9.50 each. May not sound like much, but when you have a family of six sick and have to worry about paying bills and eating, you typically only get your kids tested, as we did this morning.
Yesterday, we made sure to find out where we could get testing done, you would think in a city as big as La Paz, you could go just about anywhere. Nope, only two locations in the city offer testing for swine flu. We also made sure to let them know we would be coming in the morning.
This morning was a nightmare, four sick kids, one with a high fever; all of which did not want to get out of bed. Still, we made it only to be argued with that we could not get the testing done. Now, I have no patience when my kids are sick; my husband of course had to handle it because I sound like I am stupid when I try and miserably fail at speaking Spanish. He, of course, convinced them to let us pay for the tests and get them done.
So as we waited in the waiting area, packed with sick people (not unlike ourselves), the morning show was on (Uno I think it is called) and the anchors of this show are talking about the group of Punk young adults that recently blew up an ATM in the wee mornings of the light. So, the masterminds father is apparently wealthy, so I guess he is pushing to get his daughter off. Anyways, the anchor goes on to say, “It’s okay that they blew up an ATM because it is a form of art.”
You got to be fucking kidding me. A form of Art, if that were true when the States bombed Hiroshima, it must of been a fucking masterpiece. Which it was not. Violence is NEVER OK. I don’t care if no one got hurt. You let these little Punks off now, it will escalate. What’s the next excuse? I am no fan of the banks by any means, but you just don’t go around blowing shit up.
Lets move on to 592 people, most of which are adolescents, who disappeared in the city of La Paz from January to May this year. Apparently, the local Special Police Force, think there is a gang of kidnappers. All, I know is, it is getting scary, kids are going missing everyday. This is not a big city, in the sense of where I am from. Approximately 800,000 people, and less than 10 million in the entire country, that to me at least, is not that many people. The worst part, the disappearances are continuing.
So if blowing shit up is a form of art then so is kidnapping innocent people.
All I know is, if something happens to one of my children, I will be extremely angry with my government. We should not be here, we do not belong, and because we are foreigners, we are easy targets. Sure, I could leave, uproot my children from their father. But, what further damage will that do to my children, to myself?
And the embassy has not even issued a warning! Really? No warning yet children are disappearing left and right.
When you are doing the immigration thing the right way, your life can be at risk. Right now, I have to wait for swine flu results for my children, hey at least they can’t go out and get kidnapped, right?
Is this enough hardship for you congress? How about you actually hold some fucking senate hearings and talk to our families before you decide to crucify more American’s because they fell in love with someone you don’t consider worthy.
I woke up yesterday morning a little late, it was not a big deal the boys didn’t have to be at school on time. Mothers day is Sunday this year so they decided to do the program the Friday before. I was looking forward to this as it is middle son’s first year at this school. I was a little upset that my older son would not be participating in anything but, was happy he would sit with me during the program. My husband has his classes in the mornings until 10 am so I knew I would have to
go alone for the first half hour. Not a big deal, I took the boys to school and came straight home to wake up the other two kids and get them fed and ready to go.
When I came home I checked my sons list one more time, white shirt (check), black pants (check), black hat (check, thanks to my neighbor upstairs who let us borrow it). No problem, he is good to go. So I got Little Miss and Baby Butt out of bed dressed and fed them. At that point it was already 9:35 and we had to get going. I left the house with the little two and walked the block and a half to the boys school. Seemed like it had not started yet so we were good.
My children attend a baptist school, all private schools are religious here (except for the American School which we cannot afford), my children are not Citizens yet so they cannot go to public school (nor do I want them to go to public school here). So every program we have starts with the pastor giving us a sermon. I was having fun with Baby Butt, Little Miss on my right side, and my older son (Big Boy) on my left, so I was not really paying attention to the sermon Until…
EN LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS (In the United States, I don’t speak very much Spanish but I understand a lot)! So this of course got my attention as I have never heard a sermon here where they brought up my country.
He continued, In the United States, every child has there own room, every child has there own cell phone, every child has a tv and computer in their own room, every child has a video game system, everybody makes $500k a year. And the most insulting of all American Parents give these things to their children to make up for not loving them or giving them the care they need. Because American’s have turned away from God and are all living in sin. (Guess he forgot what Jesus said about casting the first stone.)
“Mommy, why is he saying all that about the United States?” Big Boy asks. I was angry and at this point saying “NO ES VERDAD” (It´s Not True) louder and louder, the only thing I accomplished was getting all the people around me to look at me and give me disapproving looks, as I am the only American there (besides my four children).
When my husband got there, I told him, I was livid. He told me just to ignore it and not to fight with the pastor or the director about it because we have enough problems dealing with Big Boy and the school. Big Boy, he is not a trouble maker, but, I suspect he has ADHD, it runs in my family, and he is very difficult at school and at home. His first year there we were called into the school psychiatrists office, when we tried to explain we though he had adhd. The psychiatrists response was, “That´s the problem with Americans they just want to medicate their children so they are easy to deal with.”
WHAT? First I never asked anyone to medicate my son, I was reaching out for help when they called us into the office about his behavior. Things have only gotten worse from there. I cannot help my son when people ignore everything I have to say.
So, I finally calm down because Little Man is about to dance. They come down and my son is the only boy without a vest! What? I checked it never said they needed a vest. So either the teacher told the other moms or the other moms decided the boys needed a vest (as it is traditional, how the fuck am I supposed to know, I am American). No one told me, they never do, no one talks to me, they prefer to talk to my husband. So whatever, I was happy to see my son dance, though he never smiled until it was over and he gave me my card and my flower.
I was ready to leave but we had paid about $10 for this (double for both boys, I always pay both classes even though I only have to pay one, I know some parents can’t afford to pay) I was gonna stay for my meal.
“Mommy, I made you a card but my teacher would not give it to me when I asked for it, it was pink!”, Big Boy tells me, while I am standing up waiting for a chair when every other mother is sitting down and some of their children are sitting down ( I do not let my children sit down when parents are standing, its rude). I stand for almost ten minutes when the director has someone bring me a chair. I was just ready to leave. The meals came and I got skipped, I was pissed and left. I came home and was about to start crying, my husband opened the door (it had gotten cold for the younger two so he brought them home after I got my chair) and I was like, I don’t care, I don’t want the food. He insisted and we all went back and he made sure he got both meals because I had such an awful experience. Big Boy ate the second one.
It is hard enough that I have to deal with living here and listening on a constant basis about how Big Boy was bad at school, but let me point out, when I go to the school in the afternoon to pick him up (12:30 pm they only get 4 hours a day of school) I see all the kids running around, screaming, fighting, being horrible, yet Big Boy is the only one anyone says anything about. When my children come home crying with scratches and bruises, I don’t say anything because they always try and make it out as he did something wrong, and I know all kids have issues when they don’t feel like they belong. But, then to realize that we are hated because we are American, it reminds me of everything else I have to deal with.
I am so ready to take my family to the states where we all belong. We are almost there.
So to those people that keep asking why I want to go to a place that I say the immigration laws are unjust (USA), my answer is, no matter what it is my home and my children deserve better than this. Would you sit idly by and let someone do this to your family?
Here is video of Little Man’s dance.
When I left the States the first time, I was 26 years old. I guess to sum it up I was so very naive, ignorant and full of myself. Not in the way I thought I knew everything. No, I am the type of person that tends to have information most people find useless. When I say full of myself I mean, I thought just like every other American. That my status as a citizen mattered. I have constitutional rights by God. That my rights, my children’s rights, would in fact be enough to keep my husband with us in our country.
When I realized that it would not be enough, I thought, no big deal, we are married, we have young children together, this will take no time, I can do this.
Boy was I shocked to find out my friends, my countrymen, my own government did not give a damn about me or my family, that they were not only denying our basic human rights but also ignoring my and my children’s rights as US Citizens. But, no one cares until their own rights are infringed upon.
Deport them All!
My biggest problem with this idea is that I can promise you 99.9% of the people screaming this actually have no idea what the law states. I for one understand we need immigration laws to prevent real threats. But, these laws are causing more harm then they are preventing. These laws were written to prevent marriage fraud. Ok, but my marriage is not fraudulent and I am pretty sure most couples marriages are legitimate in this situation.
The utter humiliation when I realized that I am facing the possibility of never going home as a family. Yes, after 5 1/2 years I still call the USA my home, my children’s home; it is where we all belong, including my banned husband.
This is what it is to be broken. I smile so my children do not see my cry, I keep going because I have work to do and I REFUSE to let anyone destroy my life. At least not without a fight within the legal limit of the law.
Begging to return.
The i-601 waiver of inadmissibility…. We have to file this waiver to ask permission for my husband to return. But, it is not cut and dry, they can say no, they can tell me that my husband is not allowed to return. I have to prove why I have to live with him in the USA. It is not enough to prove why I have to live there. I have to prove that I will suffer beyond an extreme and unusual hardship if he is not allowed to return to be approved.
WHAT? And by prove, I mean evidence, loads of it. We are doing this the “right” way, according to the law.
The law is the law.
UGH! Seriously? I hate it when people try this one with me. Especially when the moron spouting it has no clue what the law says. I find it very funny that the same people bitching about the undocumented typically use services that hire undocumented labor. It happens ALL THE TIME. The client wants a job done as cheaply as possible. Cheap is not easy to find when American Citizens are doing the work.
Just because the law is written that way does not make it right. It does not make it ok that my family has to be put under a microscope to have someone I will never even have a phone conversation with, let alone have the chance to make my families case to in person, will decide our fate.
Our fate will be decided via a letter of me begging to give my family our life back, with evidence supporting why I cannot live the rest of my life in Bolivia. Why I need my husband, the father of four of my children, my soul-mate, the only man I have ever been able to trust.
And if they say no?
I keep going because I cannot fathom that my own government would turn its back on me and my children. I mean this is the rest of my life we are talking about and my six children’s future.
They wouldn’t say no, would they?
Tomorrow is a very special day. Our daughter turns 4 (my youngest of 3 daughters) and it is ten years to the day that I met my husband. No matter how hard this has been, to leave everything I have ever known behind, I love him more everyday. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t always see eye to eye but, do you really think I would come here if I did not think my husband was worth it.
So many years have past and I am still in shock that we have had to wait this long to go home. I was ignorant of the laws as are most Americans who yell about deporting them all. I again had someone attack me on a post about my family needing to stay in the shit hole country I live in, that America does not want us back. Really, someone that knows nothing of my family other than my husband had immigration problems. No matter what, NO ONE deserves to be torn like this. 5 years is a very steep sentence for a missed hearing. I just don’t understand how bans can be longer than sentences of US Citizen violent offenders. Call me naive, call me stupid if you will, the truth is I FEEL, I feel for every single person that has to fall whim to these extreme bans.
I have a friend who put it like this. Immigration is like a child who sticks his fingers in his ears going, “la, la, la la, I can’t hear you”. It does not matter if the US Citizen has 3 months to live, if your spouse missed a hearing, they won’t listen.
Back to tomorrow, my daughter asked for two very specific things (out of a list of 100) that she wanted a take n play Percy train set and play doh. Thankfully, we can actually get her what she wants even if it is just two small presents, my children have gone with less over the past 5 years. We are thankful for the little things. Everything seems to be falling into place.
Of course, I am rushing to get everything done before our first visa interview, yes finally, we have our interview for the end of June. We have decided to hire an attorney, I do not have the time or energy to deal with doing the rest of this process myself. It almost seems real, almost certain. But, as always there is fear and doubt.
Discretionary, that is what scares me. Aggravating vs mitigating factors, history in the states, family ties. Of course, I have hope, but what happens if they say no? If I don’t get to go home to my daughters? If my children have to spend the rest of their childhood’s like this. So, we still have quite awhile to go maybe another year, I mean, what does it matter that it has already been more than five?
To me, like everyone else in this process, one day, just one day, feels like a lifetime.