Mi Amor

By Jeresia L. Norris

 

Mi Amor, my love –that’s what I call him.  It’s what I have always called him.  That has been his name in my phone for five years now.  I first met my husband five years ago at the end of a bad divorce.  The first night I met him I told him that there was a problem, a serious one.  I knew that I could look into those eyes forever. It is strange how sometimes you know things so quickly and others take so long to figure out.

We did all the normal things; we dated, we fell in love, we argued, we fought; we tried to figure out how to make all this work.  I already had 3 beautiful kids, Michael 17, Alec 15, and Christian 11, from my first marriage.  All boys – that is a lot to ask anyone to take on.  And me – I am no easy task.  We could write a whole book on the drama I can bring to the table.

My husband was up front with me right away.  He told me of his “situation”.  He had entered the country “without inspection”, i.e. illegally, in 2001 from Mexico.  He had come to bring a younger sibling here for safer waters.  Once here, he did what most do who enter this way.  He decided to stay a little bit, make some money, and then go back home.  Of course, then he did what many do too – he decided he liked it here.  There was good work and decent pay and he decided to make a go of it.  For just a little while.

Then he met a girl, thought he was in-love, (of course he wasn’t because this girl was not me yet!), and they married.  Naively, but well meaning, she attempted to “fix” his status.  She did not hire an attorney and struck out on her own to fix her, um, my man.  She filed all the right papers and spent thousands of dollars.  In doing so he was granted a temporary work card and was given a social security card.  With those in hand, he got a license to drive.  There, all set – he was as good as American.

Then about a year later, he was told that he was denied.  What they didn’t know was, if you have entered the USA without inspection, read illegally here, then there is NO WAY under the current laws to fix your status.  Your question, “Wait, wasn’t she a citizen – doesn’t that automatically fix him?”  Um, no. I think we all used to watch the old sitcom Night Court where we saw these cases and the people were “fixed”. Well, that is simply not the case anymore.

The truth is, under the current rules if you entered the USillegally, no matter what age, then the only way to fix it is to return to your home country and re-apply.  Ahhhhhhhh, but isn’t there always that damned caveat? And yes, there will surely be one here to.  If you have stayed for more than 1 year, then you face an automatic 10 year ban on re-applying.  Yes, 10 years.  Damn the caveats!

Shortly after this the marriage fell apart.  Well that part is easy – because he had not met his true love yet – ME!  He moved away, and took his social security card and his driver’s license and moved on.

I should mention here that the general rule is that if you get a work permit and social security card while applying for a change of status, then the social is a special social. It even has a fancy little disclaimer on it stating that is only good for work when used in tandem with the work permit.  Guess what? My husband was given a regular social. No fancy stamp.  No different than yours or mine.  So, with his complete lack of knowledge of how such “American” processes work he didn’t know he had gotten a “real deal” social.  He just knew he had one.  And to work, he did just like you and I – he showed his 2 forms of ID, social and driver’s license. Please.

When we met, he told me this story and how he thought that he was legal, because he had his documents. Even more than his friends had.  Of course, I being super-detective had to dig into this and discovered that he was more ½ in ½ out of the legal equation so to speak.

We met with an attorney that suggested we wait on the new president to see if there would be an over-haul of the immigration system.  Well, we got our new president and no, there was no long awaited overhaul.  So, our lawyer then suggested we just keep our heads down and keep on waiting.

ICE is here

In January of 2010 we received the surprise of our lives.  My husband was away working for a Government Contractor on a military base when I got the call from his relatives.  “ICE is here”.  For those of you not fluent in the immigration lingo, ICE stands for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.  ICE IS HERE?  Oh no, are they taking away my relatives?  What? Who?  Why?

And then the bomb is dropped.  “No, they are looking for Luis”.  Luis, Mi Amor, my sweet, sweet love.  They are looking for Luis?  But why?  Why have they come?  I call him home immediately and we go the lawyer the very next day.

The lawyer requests a copy of his Immigration file using the Freedom of Information Act.  It takes about 4 months to arrive.  In the meantime, the lawyer recommends that my husband stop work as ICE could potentially track him there.  In short, I “Ann Frank” him.  I do everything to hide my husband short of truly putting him in the attic behind a fake wall.  We learn to live in constant fear.  We learn to do a check out the window before we leave the house.  We play with the kids in the backyard.  We put up a fence for privacy.  We cut our expenses as best we can since our income has been slashed.

Did I mention my husband is Mexican?  Have you ever seen a Mexican work?  There is a reason we Americans love to hire Mexicans.  Yes, yes, of course often they will work for cheaper.  It’s their work ethic that gets you.  How do you think they cross deserts and swim rivers all in an effort to come to a foreign land where they don’t speak the language, and know no one, with no belongings.  We are not talking about moving the fam in a U-HAUL people.  We are talking about coming with the shirt on your back.  I won’t go to the mall with just the shirt on my back.  I mean, I could need something.  Where is my chapstick?  Do I have my phone charger?  Might I need cash?  What about a sweater if it gets cold.  Should I bring flip flops in case my cute shoes “expire”?  Ok, you get the point.  It’s all about their work ethic.  These are some hard workers and I believe it is a part of their culture and in-grained in them since infancy.

My husband, being the true Mexican that he is, didn’t handle not working very well at all.  He loved being with the kids and helping when I need to travel for work, but “a man works Jeresia!”  Oh, he told me this constantly – begged me to go back to work. But how could I let him and risk so, so much.  So we pressed on.

Once we received his file, we discovered that he had been sent a court order to his old address telling him to appear for a deportation hearing years earlier.  In the file, was also the “no longer at this address” envelope. The government knew he had not been notified, yet they proceeded with the hearing and ordered him to be deported. We had no idea.  And now, it appeared that there was nothing we could do about it but continue to live in the shadows and pray.

A Family is Born

We had our first child together in May 2010; Angel Valentin, my little Changuito (little monkey), my sweet little boy.  Now my plight became much more urgent.  What if my little boy loses his father?  What if my older boys lose their step-father who cares for them as a natural parent would?  What if I lose Mi Amor?

Time passes; you can hear the clock ticking, waiting on change, waiting on change, waiting on change. No change a coming.  We decide to go on with our lives and live the best lives we can.

Now, another clock was ticking, my biological clock.  Timing in life is not always, well timely.  And having yet another child in the middle of this “situation” seemed silly. But we are a family!  We wanted another baby and I would only feel comfortable having one before I crossed that magical 35 year mark.  Darn, now I gave up my age.

So, we took the leap of faith, and holy miracles we got pregnant again!  We were thrilled, and more thrilled to find out that I would finally get a baby girl!  4 boys is a lot to manage and well, I just felt like I deserved a little pink in my life after all these years.

Hiroshima

Then another bomb hit. If the first bomb was bad, this one wasHiroshima.

It was a nice Saturday.  September 19, 2010.  We were having family time with the kids and Mama was hungry.  (Um, I am Mama and you all should know it).  I decided I would go and pick out some food at the local supermarket to cook.  My husband, being the amazing man he is does not let his pregnant wife do such errands.  In fact, she may do pretty much no errands while carrying his precious cargo around.  But, I insisted.  I wanted to browse, a pregnant girl doesn’t always know what she wants but a quick trip to the store will call it up in a hurry.

So, off I go.  And as I returned I noticed what appeared to be an unmarked police car pulls out behind me in my neighborhood.  Oh drat!  Did I blow the stop sign?  I park in my driveway and see that now another vehicle has come from the opposite end of the street.  “ICE is here”.  I knew this day would come.  I didn’t know when.  I didn’t know how.  But I knew it could come.  And today, was that day.

Two agents approach.  We play the game.  He’s not here.  He went back to Mexico.  I have not communicated with him.  Etc., Etc.   They thank me for my time, give me their cards and ask me to call if I hear from him.  I come inside and fill in my husband.  Now we have moved on to plan B.  Plan B is how to handle the situation when and if this happened.  Now it has. 10 minutes later the doorbell rings.  I answer.  “ICE is here” – again.  This time there are many more agents and local police are here as well.  ICE has surrounded my home and they are looking quite serious about taking my husband. We play the game.  In fact, we play the game for 2 and ½ hours.  I am good at playing games. I kind of like them, but not with ICE.

At the end, we reach a compromise of sorts.  They are not going to go away.  They are going to continue to come, and watch my home, and follow my children, and invade. So, a compromise must be made. They agree to not take my husband into custody, but rather they will put him on an Order of Supervision.  This will allow us time to “prepare” for his deportation from the states and they will give us regular reporting dates until that date is set and carried out.  How can I prepare?  I am 7.5 months pregnant with my 5th child.  There is no preparation for this.

We call our attorney and all agree that this is best.  We then invite the ICE agents, our enemies, or foes, into our home.  Sit them at our table.  Offer them drink.  And sign the papers stating when we will next report.

Early Arrival

The following Monday my Doctor admitted me into the hospital.  I had my daughter 8 weeks premature four days later by emergency C-section, due to stress related conditions.  Um, YOU THINK!  We visited her daily in the NICU and prayed for everything to be okay with our little 3 lb. 11oz. Camila Maria De Jesus.  We were just so thankful for so many things; that Luis had not gone to the store that day; that they gave us an Order of Supervision.  All so that he could be here for the birth of our little miracle girl.  So many things to be thankful for on top of so much heartache and worry.

We went to our first appointment with ICE while she was still in the hospital.  We told them what happened and they were actually great about it. They told us not to worry – to deal with our daughter first and setup a follow appointment with the office that handles folks on orders of supervision.

During the time between visits we did finally get our Camila home. Such a wonderful gift but hardly enjoyed with all the stress surrounding us. We used the time between visits to work with our attorney, and I called on two others to get 2nd and 3rd opinions.  All agreed that basically, there was nothing we could do to stop the deportation. Nothing, nada.  In short, we could keep attempting to keep ICE at bay and do our regular check-ins but eventually, and we knew not when, he would have to return to Mexico.

The Check-In

At that time, I could apply for hardship waiver.  A hardship waiver is NOT my children will be eft fatherless.  Or I will lose Mi Amor, my husband, mi esposo, mi mejor amigo.  No, no, a hardship is much, much harder to come by.  We would be truly out on a limb.  And these waivers can take anywhere from 6 months to years to process. All while you are separated.  All while you know that if the hardship is not approved, then he would be subjected to the 10 year ban on returning.

Moving to Mexico is not an option.  Mexico is in the middle of a war with the drug cartels. They rule the government and every other enterprise that is availablem for the taking.  My children would all be in danger as would I.  No, the Gringa, would not be going to Mexico.  We would just have to fight the fight the best we could and pray.  And pray and pray and pray.

We went to our second check-in on December 15, 2011.  We were prepared to check-in and get a new check-in date.  Rather, we were told to return on January 17th, 2012 with his Mexican passport in hand and an itinerary outlining when he would be deporting to Mexico.  Otherwise, ICE would personally handle it for us.  Not in a nice let me book that flight for you way, more as in a, put your hands behind your back way.

We left.  In shock.  As we got in our car I knew I could not drive.  I needed time to process.  I got out the car and told Mi Amor that we should get a coffee first and think this over.  This is what I do.  Think.  I needed to think.

We grabbed a coffee and sat on a bench in silencio.  Just then I saw the original 2 ICE agents walking to lunch.  I stopped them and they asked how the baby was.  Yes, you heard me – they asked about my sweet Camila. These guys had felt our pain and understood.  And we understood that they are doing their job.  And at the end of the day we are all just people trying to make it the best we can.

We informed the agents of what had occurred and where we stood.  I told them the info I had received from 3 attorneys and they shook their heads and said they thought I should possibly speak with another attorney. They gave us a name of one they work with frequently on deportation
cases and we called.

Esperanza

I met with Stephanie Nodine of Torres Law Firm in Charleston, S.C. the very next week.  I knew right away she was the attorney for me.  She’s a thinker. Not a in the box thinker.   A let’s really listen to you and consider all the options kind of thinker, Mama like.

So Stephanie recommends that we file a motion, a Motion to Reopen.  In essence, asking the court to set aside his deportation order and re-open the case as he was not notified.  The angels begin to sing.  The birds chirp.  The sun just barely glimpses my way.  We have a hope.  A small hope, but that is all a girl like me needs to hold on to.

So we have filed the motion, and this effectively puts a “stay of deportation” on Mi Amor.  They cannot come and take him in the night.  They cannot say “put your hands behind your back”.  At least until the Motion to Re-open order is decided.  They can say no.  Even though he was not notified and we have the proof – as the government does – they can still say no.  My family can still be destroyed with the gavels pound.  Pero!  But, it also could be approved.

If it is approved, then we have a fight of a chance.  Of course, he would still have to return to Mexicoand apply for the hardship waiver, and we still face a long separation, but we are willing to fight the fight.  We will continue.

I began an online petition asking everyone I know – and people I don’t, to sign it.  And they do, boy do they.  The outpouring of love and support is overwhelming.  It gives us hope. It gives us esperanza.  It keeps us going.  It’s all a girl like me needs.

http://www.change.org/petitions/dont-deport-jose-luis-noris-husband-and-father-of-2-us-citizen-children

The New Rule

Then the big news – the hugest news of all!  Obama has signed in a New Rule.  The new rule states that if you are the spouse or child of an American Citizen and will be applying for a hardship waiver you may now do so from the United States.  You do not have to return to your home country.  You do not have to leave your children fatherless.  You do not have to separate from tu Amor.

The Motion to Re-open could be denied.  The hardship waiver could be denied.  This could all be for nothing.  But how can it be?  I told you I could look into those eyes forever and I meant it.  My marriage and mi familia are everything to me.  I will not give up.  I won’t just accept this.  I won’t take it lying down or even sitting up.  You will find me fighting and arguing and speaking out on exactly what is wrong with our immigration system.

La Familia Eterna

My husband was wrong.  He made the poorest decision of his life.  Maybe you think I am wrong because I loved and married him anyway.  Maybe I am.  But my babies are not wrong.  Having a wonderful, loving father is never wrong.  No matter what papers he didn’t do, or what line in the sand he crossed.

I need my husband, the same as I am sure that you need your spouse.  My children need their father, the same as I am sure your children need their father.  The color of our skin has no matter in my home.  Nor do the lands that we were born in, or the languages that we speak.  We are a family – la familia.  And there can never, ever, be anything wrong with that.

Viva La Familia!!!  To be continued……………………………..

http://www.change.org/petitions/dont-deport-jose-luis-noris-husband-and-father-of-2-us-citizen-children

 

Comments

One Response to “Mi Amor”
  1. Cecy says:

    Stay strong. There’s nothing left to do but stay strong. I’m in the same boat. I had to go to Juarez for my appt but the interviewer decided she diddnt want to give it to me knowing full well that i have no family here and can barely speak spanish so all i can do is file for hardship waiver while living in a country I’ve never known.

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