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    Posted January 29, 2013 by
    Upland, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Naturalized citizens: Your thoughts on immigration reform

    Our struggles as legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens

    My name is Johanna and 3 1/2 years ago I came with my 2 daughters (19 and 18 now) from the Netherlands to the US. I worked for almost 2 years to come into this country and the only way to enter the US was that I had to invest in a business. I had to buy a business with at least 20 employees to get a visa. I invested for over
    $ 500,000.00 and bought a Cold Stone Ice Cream store with 21 emloyees and received an E-2 visa. My whole life I dreamed of living in the US and my girls and I love this country truly! But the American Dream hasn't become true yet because of all the obstacles I experience daily. My two daughters who are straight
    A-students on Highschool and College are struggeling with their future: They can't get a Social Security number; they aren't aloud to get a job (what they really want) because they are dependent on me because of my E-2 visa; they can't get scholarships because they are not an American citizen AND are not an International Student. My daughter of 19 who is studying at FIDM in LA can't do an interim ship for College and when she finishes her education she is only aloud to work for 1 year (to get experience) and then has to return back to the Netherlands. My youngest daughter (an AP student) will get accepted at good Universities but won't get financial aid.
    I love America and I think it's the greatest country on Earth and like what President Obama said in his inauguration speech: All the people are equal. What bothers me is this: I think that everybody who wants to come to the US should be treated equal. America made laws to treat everybody the same. I did everything the legal way to enter the country and to live here. As a small business owner I pay A LOT of taxes and pay my emplyees well like every American citizen but I don't get the benifits like other citizens. My daughers can't get a student loan (what they need to get a good education) and if I want to buy a house I have to pay 10% interest to the bank. I pay over $ 700.00 a month for my health insurance and am willing to do that like every Amercian should do. But still my future isn't too bright and now with this new legislation I think to myself "I should have come here illegally so me and my daughters wouldn't have problems to become an American citizen. Please don't think I am angry or frustrated because I am a positive and healthy woman but it makes me kind of sad that by working really hard and doing everything the right way I don't feel I am treated the same as the people who are illegal here and are becoming an American the easy way while I have to wait for many more years!
    I watch CNN daily and follow your wonderful (news)programms with lots of interest. I would like to tell my story to the other CNN vieuwers to show that there is a different story on immigration. I think the legal immigrants are unknown and people aren't aware of our struggles. I don't say that all illegals should be send back to their native country but when you give them so easily the rights to become an American citizen this should also be the case for all the people who do it the legal way. My daughters and I don't want to leave this land of oppertunities and we love the (our) President, so we will keep on going to believe in a good future but also hope to get some support from the politicians. It's sad that we are not aloud to vote either becaue that would gives us a better feeling too. We are interested in politics and especially my daughters know a lot about it. So by writing this story I hope our voices will be heard!
    It was a pleasure I got the oppertunity to write this story and hope to hear from CNN.
    Yours sincerely,
    Johanna Winkelaar
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