Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sister and Brother, One Undocumented, One Legal

This is the story of Julia and Gustavo who came here at age 11 for her and at age 18 for him. Gustavo is a legal immigrant now after marrying his wife who was an American citizen. (just like our ex-undocumented Australian and Irish American Idol contestants). Like many immigrants that overstay their visas, they come from a well educated family that fled instability and violence in their native country.

Since getting his green card, Gustavo likes to make jokes. Bad ones. He'll say something like, "What are we gonna do with all these illegals?" and smile.

Though they came to the United States on the same flight, Julia and Gustavo have adapted to the caprices of immigration policy and undocumented life in starkly different ways: she, by working hard in school and trying to attend college; he, by marrying an American citizen.

Julia is not rewarded

And while Gustavo can laugh about it, Julia is looking for someone to blame. "I know other kids, American kids, they've been here all their life," she says. "They could care less about going to college. But I can't go to school. I can't work. I can't do pretty much anything."

I also like how this article discusses marriage, undocumented students, and the reason why they came to the U.S. Many people have no choice but to flee their native countries. Also, too many people think it's as easy as marrying an American citizen. Julia is 18 and has never had a boyfriend. Think back and try to remember who you were dating at the age of 18. Think if you married that person. shudders. For most of us, it's a scary thought. 18 is too young to get married and Gustavo being married at the age of 21 was too young as well but forced into it by his situation. It's no surprise it didn't last. An undocumented student once told a reporter that her boyfriend asked her to marry her after a few weeks of dating in an effort to help her become legal. She wouldn't do it because she considered it form of prostitution. To many people especially immigrants, marriage still means something.

Plus, not everyone can simply become legal by marrying a citizen
Immigration laws are complicated and depend on the situation. Click here and here of examples of spouses not being able to adjust to legal status.


Anonymous said...

Same here... My sister is a citizen through marriage... And I am gay LOL


Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I face the children-without-a-country every day. Convincing a 12 year old to study hard and finish school is nearly impossible when the 12-yr old knows it still won't get him/her into college or a good job.