It finally happened. Just a random Thursday at the end of July I got my letter,
“This is to notify you that your application for permanent residence has been approved. It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to permanent resident status in the United States.”
Wow. It feels like it’s been a lifetime. Thousands of dollars later, denial after denial. The scratching of ones head and the uncertainty of ones heart has brought me to this moment.
I am now a fully legal permanent resident of the United States and a Green card holder.
I’ll be honest the feeling is of relief as well as joy, happiness and excitement for the future. The irony being I am most excited about leaving the country. I have felt trapped here for the better part of the past decade but am no longer shackled by an undocumented immigrant status.
But while I may be free millions more are not. Every day millions of hard working people in this country wake up and go to work along side you, for you or perhaps even employ you. Millions of people, many living in fear as they worry about getting pulled over for a minor traffic infraction only to be deported and separated from their families.
Against the backdrop of the current political ramblings of what are clearly a delusional, ignorant blow hard there has never been a more important time to talk about immigration and immigration reform.
I realize how lucky I am. Lucky my white privilege has afforded me the ability to seemingly slip under the radar and live among you. Lucky to have met a truly remarkable woman, fall in love and find myself in a place of legality.
For many that dream is just that. During my time in Tampa I have been lucky enough to meet many indigenous Maya who came here for the same reason many came here hundreds of years ago, for a better life and future for themselves and their families.
In this community there are families torn apart. With a sibling, a father, a mother or a loved one across a border and in a different country. Many children born here with ability to travel and see their grandparents overseas while their parents cannot.
We need a better system. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. They are amazing people. Talented people and hopeful people. They represent the very ideal of what this great nation was built on.
I am one of the lucky few but I will not forget those less fortunate and I will do all I can to further their cause and advocate for them.
No walls. No restrictions. No splitting up families and no hateful ignorance.
Immigrants make America Great.