I was brought to the United States in ’92 as an illegal immigrant when I was eight years old. At the time my family believed that after a 7 year stay we would be granted residency status. We stayed here through much initial cultural and financial hardship eventually making this our home. Through much of this early time I was too young to fully comprehend where the laws were headed. As time passed I began to truly comprehend my immigration status as I had trouble going through typical teenage rituals like landing my first job and getting a driver’s license.
My family kept a close ear to what was going on in immigration law and we even felt incredible hope when George W. became President because he was making very serious public remarks about initiating major immigration reform and an amnesty program. I attended a prestigious high school, through a scholarship, and went on to college. I earned my Bachelor’s degree a couple of years ago, without any loan assistance event though my family has always paid their taxes fully and in a timely manner. After graduating college I had to fully face the reality I am here illegally and began to consider moving back to Mexico. Right around then there was talk on major immigration reform again in ’06 and ’07. I’ve stayed put by doing odd jobs throughout and studying for the LSAT.
I had a great performance on the LSAT (170+) and now I wish to continue my life. I recently told my American girlfriend about my situation and we decided we wanted to get married. We are in love, but I cannot in full earnest say that my immigration status had no part in our decision. I have a brother who was married in ’00 to an American citizen and recently was able to complete his own citizenship. I consulted him on how to approach my marriage and he consulted his own immigration lawyer. His lawyer painted a bleak picture since the marriage visa law changed in ’01. My own research confirms that I would have a 10 year ban from the US for having stayed here illegally for more than a year after turning 19. The lawyer’s professional opinion is for me to just stay put and maintain a clean record. She says those types of laws get changed fairly regularly and there is even a good chance of major immigration reform with an new administration after the fall ’08 election.
I feel incredibly frustrated by the situation. I also continue to be surprised by how little the average young American college grad knows about the subject. The few friends that I’ve told assume that surely because of my personal attributes, and having been brought as a minor, there must be a legal way to remain in the country. The public at large make the assumption that we chose to break the law, that I have legal alternatives that I’m too lazy or careless to abide by.
My family and my community have invested tremendous resources on me and I am not able to participate in society at my maximum capacity. It makes no sense for me to return to a country that has no investment in me and that I have nothing invested in. I think both me, my original country, and the US would suffer if that were to happen. I also can’t help but feel that with my personal talents I would be able to be of positive influence with the current economic crisis. As it is now though, I remain on the sidelines, waiting for a dream.