- Posted January 28, 2013 by
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Naturalized citizens: Your thoughts on immigration reform
Immigration Reform: What About the "Legals" ?
- rachel8, CNN iReport producer
As I write this I sit comfortably in my parents' living room on a quiet bay just outside of Halifax, Canada. My 7 month old daughter babbles to herself in her baby gym just a few feet away on the floor. Anyone happening to look in the window might think it an idyllic scene, but what our young family have been through in the last 7 months is nothing short of a nightmare.
I met my husband on St. Patrick's Day two years ago in a Seoul, South Korea. He was a medic stationed with the US military and I was a wandering teacher, fresh out of grad school. Our daughter was born on June 20, 2012 at a small hospital in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. The cherished first child of a Canadian mother and an American father, she brought joy to families both sides of the border. For two blissful (albeit sleepless) weeks, we lived together cozily in an old house on the main street of a tiny town in Northwestern PA. On July 8, 2012, we drove across the border to Toronto so I could take my precious baby girl home to meet her Canadian family. This was the last day that my daughter spent on American soil.
You see, when we tried to return to the US the following month I was refused on the grounds that I did not have the proper documentation. To rewind for a bit, I was in the US on a B2 visitor visa when I gave birth. We had initially planned to have the baby in Canada but because of my husband’s ongoing commitments to the Pennsylvania National Guard he was unable to join me and we did not want to risk him missing the birth of his first child. We were able to secure health insurance through the military and thus it was decided that I would stay in the US. We called the immigration hotline for military families to discuss adjusting my status from within the country, but were told by an agent that I could not switch from a B2 to a permanent resident and must leave the country and come back.
In fact, leaving the country was not only an unnecessary step to adjusting my status, it sealed my fate of waiting out the entire 6-12 month visa process in Canada, a new mom with a little baby, and a little baby without her dad. It has been 201 days since I filed my initial green card forms from Canada, and during that time my husband has seen his daughter twice. Because of his schedule as a full-time student and military commitments he has very little free time, and even as I write this I have no idea when we will see him next. I have stopped keeping track of all of the “firsts” he is missing out on, as I don’t want to think about it and to tell him would only serve to break his heart even further.
I am not asking for special treatment, to move up in line, or even for pity. I am just a Canadian girl who fell in love with an American soldier and naively thought that she only needed a green card to work. What I am asking for, is that President Obama consider every category of immigrant as he moves forward with immigration reform. I have to say it irks me a bit when I hear that illegal immigrants will not be deported when I have waited for months and spent thousands of dollars to do it “the right way”. Even as I was fingerprinted, photographed, and sobbing uncontrollably in the border patrol offices, the guards sheepishly told me that “it’s ok, you’ll get it, they’ll let you in eventually”. So what then, is the point of making me wait outside the country? I am the spouse of an American, the mother of an American, and my police check bounced back in 24 hours completely spotless- what possible threat is it that I pose to the American people? I am just a young mother whose family has been split in half by archaic and pointless bureaucracy. So please, Mr. President (Canadians love you so!) consider some of us “legals” when you begin the arduous and complex task of tackling immigration in America. My family and I will be waiting.