It was supposed to be a 2 week trip. He would visit family he had not seen in over 12 years, get his visa stamped and then come home.
I can’t forget the day he got on the flight, March 11th. I called him when he was near the airport and said “Don’t go, I am worried the embassies might shut down”. He laughed it off and said “Unlikely! Plus I should get this immigration paperwork sorted out”
I even offered to drive him back to my apartment cause I only lived 10 minutes from the airport but he refused. Not a day goes by when I don’t beat myself up for not driving to the airport and trying harder to convince him to stay. Maybe that 10 minute drive would’ve made the difference.
Within 24 hours of him landing the embassies shut down. 3 months later the president issued an executive order. His embassy appointment has been moved 3 times so far.
Almost 7 months later the embassies are still partially shut down. We have no idea when he is going to be able to come home. The longer he is stuck the harder and more complicated it’s going to be to bring him home.
My dad is currently working east coast hours while in IST, which means he works through the night. I feel so guilty for making him push his body at his age.
I have tried everything. Petitions, talking to the senator’s office and endless lawyers. The most painful thing is it feels like my family has given up. But I am sick of setting up the dinner table for 3-when there should be 4.
I feel like i’m the only one still fighting to try and bring him home before the elections.
His company may take away his benefits in November. So I need to figure out health insurance…My mom is at risk of becoming undocumented and who knows what will happen to our house if both my parents have to go back. My brother is a minor and what if I need to become his legal guardian? I’m on a visa to and that’s not enough security for him. He deserves better.
Trying to survive this system made me strong. But I live life with constant worry. I always have to think of consequences. I am in my early 20s and I am playing the role of a parent at home. I honestly don’t know how much longer I have it in me to carry this weight
Pending: My visa, my immigration status, my life. The word “pending” has followed me through all my years of high school and it’s something I think about now, even as I’m getting ready to graduate college. I remember every year my family would have to pay hundreds of dollars that we didn’t have to renew our paperwork. We would receive our new statuses a year later only for them to be valid for just a couple of months. We would then have to send our renewal paperwork back with more money and the cycle would continue. Out of the entire year, I would only have a valid status for two months. In the months where it was pending, we lived in constant fear of retaliation and deportation. Those months are the reason why it took me three years to get a driver’s license, why I wasn’t eligible for most scholarships, and why I was told to pay international tuition for a state that I’ve been living in for 6 years. There hasn’t been a single day of my life where I don’t think about my immigration status.
I wish I believed in the American Dream and American exceptionalism, but I don’t. I am not asking for much, just for a chance to live a normal life. A chance to not have my life decisions impacted by my visa status: to be able to apply to the jobs and internships I want, to protest, to vote, to go back to India to see my grandparents and cousins. I want to start a life for myself, but the broken immigration system keeps me from doing that. So, my life continues to be on hold: pending.
I was 11 years old. My classmates and I were rehearsing folk dances in the school auditorium when my parents checked me out of school and took me on a 24-hour flight around the world. The buckets and pails that I used every morning turned into hot showers and white subway tiles.
The air was different in Alabama; my asthma got better after leaving the polluted Manila. Besides that, I never really fit in despite the kids at school commending my good English. Until the 8th grade, I wasn’t friends with anyone; I would just stay home due to my mother’s fear of Americans. I’ve never been afraid of this new world, though. The concept of freedom in many forms led me to hold the same democratic values of an ideal America that I wanted to call home. Eventually, I established myself as an important member of my community. With my parent’s guidance, I did my best to become a great candidate for colleges.
I’m 18 now, and nobody could have seen it coming.
In hindsight, we knew there was a chance that we wouldn’t get to stay here forever. The timeline of our green card application was cutting it close to college application season. When COVID-19 became a global pandemic, the USCIS shut down. The following backlog extended way past the amount of time we had left on our visas. My family and I were forced to go back to the Philippines. Any hope of going to college as a legal resident burst into flames, and applying as an international student is more complicated and expensive.
I told my friends that I was “moving” instead of “preemptively self-deporting” because I didn’t want things to be weird. Almost everyone around me wouldn’t fully understand my situation. I fell down a dark hole. I kept thinking about how my friends were born with intrinsic worth to this country, whereas mine just comes from my legal status.
But I know that I am more than a document or a number, and this is a fact that my parents have always known ever since they made the decision to move us here and give us a better life than before. I just hope I can finish what they started to make them proud. Maybe then, I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror and finally see someone worthy of success.
Home. It’s where my heart is. It’s with the people I hold close to me. But as an immigrant, it can’t be confined to one location. My parents immigrated to America for the second time 10 years ago. Before that, I had been back and forth spending my infant years in America, kindergarten in India, and elementary school in Singapore. I had to say a lot of goodbyes to many newly-formed friends and the memories I had gathered. I always tore myself over wondering why my parents kept moving. It took me a long time before realizing that everything they did, they did for their children. They wanted the best education, best resources, and the best possible childhood we could have. Sure, they can be a little tough and hard at times but it will never compare to the sacrifices they’ve made.
Despite spending the last 10+ years in America, I still go through a mid-life crisis every day trying to figure out who I am. I am an Indian-American kid on paper but does that mean anything? Like the hyphen, I struggle to bridge the gap between my two worlds. Does my passport alongside my parents and family mean I’m more Indian? Or does spending half my life loving a country and learning about its history and embodying its values mean I’m more American? Not a single day goes by without the label of an immigrant weighing down on me. From the mentally-exhausting moments where I worry about my undocumented status waiting for my parents’ visa to be extended to trying to make a career & identity for myself while being unable to work, nothing comes easy and I’ve come to accept that. However, I wouldn’t be where I am without being optimistic about the future. So, I persevere knowing that I can make tomorrow be better than today.
I vividly remember the day I arrived at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with a tiny backpack and my hand gripping my father. We were greeted by my mother who arrived in the USA a year before us. Looking back on this moment, I never realized that this one decision my parents made to give me a better life would change everything forever.
Growing up in the USA as an immigrant, my parents always made sure that I knew I could be anything. I believed I was the same as my peers and could reach for my dreams. Little did I know that I didn’t have the same opportunities as my peers. One summer day before freshman year of high school, my parents sat me down to explain the green card backlog. I sat there soaking in the words “you can’t apply for a job… you aren’t eligible for a LOT of scholarships… can’t apply to many schools as an in-state student…high chance of deportation when you turn 21”. As I sat there hearing all the things I “can’t do” because of my visa status, I began to question everything I had ever done. What could I have done differently? I thought I had done everything right by taking college classes and being in the top 5% of my class and even earning state level recognition for piano. But it all seemed to boil down to one thing: my visa status. Learning about this at a younger age than most helped prepare me for the worst before it arrived. However, my mental health took a huge hit. I remember crying at times because I was not sure what I was going to do about my future.
The one thing that kept me going was my parents. Knowing how much they had sacrificed for me, I decided to not let this be my story. I am determined to not let my immigration status define my destiny.
I remember my first flight journey. I was a 7 year old girl on a journey to a whole new world-America. Little did I know that my first plane ride would turn my whole life into a series of firsts.
I remember timidly reaching for my first chicken nugget at a McDonalds, where my mom and I finally rejoined my dad. Two years prior, my dad had immigrated to America on a worker visa to try to find a stable job before bringing my mom and I. Those 2 years were the start of the endless sacrifices my parents made to provide a life for me in America. It has been 14 years since and we have not gone back to visit our family in India due to the fear of not being able to return. I didn’t realize what my parents were giving up until I was 17 years old, when my grandmother passed away. My grandmother had been bedridden for 11 years due to a stroke. Every time she saw me on a video call, I saw a priceless joy on her face, a picture that will forever be fresh in my mind. She would tell me she was waiting for the day she could hold me in her arms again. But she never got the chance to.
Looking back, I feel this internal anger towards my parents. They gave up so much-weddings, birthdays, funerals. The lost opportunity of taking care of their parents, though not expressed, I know kills them inside. And it’s all for my chance in America. I am their dream. They showed me life is limitless and that I can make an impact in this world. I had the opportunity to break boundaries as a woman and be many firsts in my family. But on my 20th birthday, reality hit me hard. I found out that I had to switch from my dependent visa to an international student visa. Ever since, I’ve been shackled by my immigration status. I do not have the same opportunities and I am not treated as an equal to my peers. The daunting question of whether I will get deported will always loom around me. The chance of my deportation is not only about the loss of my hard work or the threat of getting kicked out of home, it is also about my parents’ sacrifice going in vain. But I choose to let no obstacle stop me from my dreams. I will continue to fight with the grit and determination my parents have instilled in me.