Saturday, October 17, 2009

October update

October 3rd quietly came and went. It's now been one year since Carlos was officially banned from the US.

Life marches on. Amy's been long-term substitute teaching near home. Just finished a month teaching a 3rd grade class in the Dual Language program, which was a fun chance to put to use all the practices she learned in her student teaching days at Inter-American Magnet School in Chicago. Dual Language has a lot of special challenges that you never encounter in traditional bilingual classrooms.

Carlos is teaching a variety of levels at the English language schools where he works in Monterrey. He's even teaching kids right now, which is not for the faint of heart. He's exhausted from the one-hour (each way!) commute from home to work, and disappointed that there never seems to be any money left after the bills are paid.

Lucas is 9 months old (almost 10!) and has developed a rigorous repertoire of crawling, climbing, and cruising around every inch of the house. New pics were posted today! See the link below:

[click here for more!]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We have a new ally!

Recently, we were granted the honor of an appointment with Clarisol Duque, who is the director of Senator Durbin's Chicago office. Yesterday, I went with Lucas and my mom to meet her. I expected it to be a quick in-and-out type of thing where she would listen to our story for a minute and then assure me that Senator Durbin will support immigration reform.

Instead, here's what happened.

We waited in the reception area for a couple minutes and then she came out, super friendly, and really excited to meet Lucas. He, by the way, put on such a show, being extra-cute and smiley and charming the whole time. So she led us, not to some little office or cubicle, but to the CONFERENCE ROOM, big, huge corner room there on the 38th floor overlooking the south end of Chicago's Loop and Lake Michigan.

Then Ms. Duque sat down, opened a notepad, and said, "So, tell me about your situation."

So I did, and she listened intently. She wrote down all the legal codes. She wrote down dates of entries and the visa interview. She was concerned but not shocked that Carlos, being a minor at the time, was held to 6(c)(ii), the lifetime ban with no waiver for misrepresentation as a US citizen. She asked where we're at with appeals and such.

Her biggest concern was with the fact that 6(c)(ii) was held against a minor rather than the fact that it is unwaiveable. This is not a surprise, as that's where Durbin's heart is with immigration legislation. As she stated, even if Senator Schumer's (D-NY) much-anticipated immigration reform bill were to include a waiver for 6(c)(ii), it's still an injustice that Carlos should be charged with it in the first place.

So she said she wants to START by investigating if there's a precedent for success in what our attorney most recently attempted, which is getting DHS to review a waiver and determine eligibility for it rather than the consulate. She says she'll have her people look at that first. She expressed concern and interest in our case, which was much more than I was expecting.

By the way, she is the most knowledgeable person I've talked to about our case to date who wasn't deeply involved in their own immigration situation. This especially surprised me because her job is not to deal with immigration cases; she literally RUNS Durbin's Chicago office. I was totally blown away by her knowledge, professionalism, and yet very easy-going, warm character. She gave me faith that Senator Durbin's office might play a big role in our family someday seeing our dream of togetherness in the US come true.

Where this will go, we don't know, but we have renewed energy that we might see something positive happen for our case. :)

Here are some photos from our exciting day

Lucas, enjoying the view from the Metra. This is the stop where his Mommy used to get off to visit Daddy back when they were dating!

After the meeting, walking around downtown. Lucas had enough excitement and napped in Grandma's favorite umbrella stroller.

Back at home, Lucas models the adorable outfit he wore all day, courtesy of Ryan and Harper Guerra.

Alternate caption: "This is the outfit I was wearing when I crawled around in Senator Durbin's conference room!"

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Time for action

We've been struggling with possibilities in Canada, as these sluggish economic times make it hard enough to find a job in one's own country, let alone a foreign one. While we're still trying hard to make that option work, we're also stepping up the fight on the homefront to push for legislation that would ultimately allow Carlos to return to the US legally and finally be a regular husband and father.

That brings us to American Families United. They recognize that mere Comprehensive Immigration Reform isn't enough unless it includes the families of US citizens that are stuck with ridiculous bans. They've constructed a pretty fantastic waiver reform proposal that has already been placed in the hands of various legislators. We believe that AFU's lobbying efforts are making a difference in the immigration legislation currently being drafted. That's why we're adding our voices to theirs in hopes of some positive change. Our story can be seen on their website, and in the near future, we'll be informing you of ways you can add your voice to push for legislative reform that would help us.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lucas checks in

Mommy, Grandma, and Grandpa are busy trying to make me proficient at all this stuff, such as
sitting by myself...

learning to play with my toys...

eating from a spoon (even if it is just my milk from Mommy)...

playing music...

And now, web browsing and blogging. Here's my first blog post from my own fingers:

``pl,p jjnjk n b cc c T V C_ VC_ ñl…– ø …

f cdx zzzzxu8nu ,lgv y vg ¸Ωv f n nnmmmn k
Everyone's amazed that I can type Greek characters. I'm not telling how I do it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

After 7 months and much anticipation...

...We're all here together in Mexico!

Here's the photo everyone's been waiting to see:

This is actually a screen capture from my parents' computer while they were talking to us on Skype as soon as we got home. Hopefully we'll get a nicer one taken while we're here...

Some photos of Carlos getting to know his son:

Carlos' dad meeting his first grandchild:

Wake up, Daddy!!!

I decided the last straw was when, after postponing our trip due to the "swine flu outbreak" in Mexico, I fell ill with a nasty strain of the flu. Ironically, it's very likely that what hit me was the same swine flu, due to the fact that there were a number of confirmed cases in the schools where I was substituting right before getting sick.

Just when I thought I was recovering, Lucas started showing signs of it. Fortunately, after a check-up at the doctor and lots of Tylenol, he recovered, but we were nervous for awhile. It's always scary to see your child sick, but especially when you know how he's feeling.

After we completed our 7-to-10-day contagious period, I jumped on the very first flight we could get to Mexico.

And here we are. Hopefully soon I'll be able to get a few spare moments to post about some of the things we've been up to. Till then, suffice it to say we are one very happy family!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maybe someday we'll look back and laugh

Lucas' Birth Certificate: $14 and 10 days
Lucas' Social Security Number: 3 months
Mexican Notary Stamp on signed Passport Consent Form from Carlos: $50 and 1 month
DHL fee to mail said consent form to the US: $35 and 3 days
Lucas' Passport: $85 and 2 ½ weeks
Round-trip airfare from Chicago to Mexico for me and the baby: $450

...Having to postpone our much-anticipated reunion because of a swine flu outbreak? Priceless.

I would prefer to think that caution and care are all we need, and that a flu outbreak should not deter me from finally seeing my husband after 7 months, but I've been forced to shelve that approach in favor of extreme wariness.

If it wasn't enough that all the health professionals in my life on this side of the border were urging me not to go, now it's being confirmed from the Mexican side. Carlos' father, who is a health professional in the non-alarmist tradition, said we must not come. Apparently hospitals in Monterrey are classifying this virus as a Stage 4, which Carlos explained to me as basically "bad, bad news".

So even though I feel like a virus is just a virus, preventable and treatable, the others in my life say otherwise and I'm going to rely on their judgment.

So there you go. If we weren't stuck before, we sure are now!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Still a family without a country

I'd love to have posted on all the fun and interesting moments that transpired since the last post. Unfortunately, due to my slacker nature, I'm now forced to jump straight to the very important and not so pleasant news that defines my family's reality.

Where to begin? As you all know, or for those who don't, last October Carlos and I received the final word from the US Consulate in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. He is not eligible for a visa to live in the US as my spouse, and he also isn't eligible for the hardship waiver that US citizen spouses usually get to file when their loved one isn't eligible for a visa.

All this because of one unfortunate day when he was 16, when he was forced by a parent to seek entry to the US using a relative's US birth certificate instead of the visitor's visa he already possessed. Under immigration law -- INA 212 A 6 C ii to be specific -- a false claim of US citizenship carries a lifetime ban with no waiver. Still, the fact that Carlos was ineligible for the waiver was a surprise to most who knew our case, including the wildly successful immigration lawyer who we consulted with prior to attending the interview. Evidently the immigration world had been misinformed, because everyone was under the impression the consulate would not be applying this law to people who were minors at the time the incident occurred.

So, we fought it. In November, the Wildly Successful Immigration Lawyer proved her ongoing excellence by sending a beautifully crafted appeal to the Department of State in Washington. Basically, the argument was that since Carlos was too young to consent to the claim of citizenship, and because it happened against his will, that section of the law should not be used against him. Unfortunately, weeks later, the appeals people in Washington decided that INA 212 A 6 C ii does not require the person to have intended anything. They simply had to commit it. In other words, case closed.

On to December. I attempted to get some help from Senator Durbin's office. This is the man who not only ranks at the top of the power structure in the Senate, but also sponsored the DREAM act, which seeks to provide legal status for people brought into the US as minors. People like Carlos. Sadly, after weeks of attempting contact with Senator Durbin's caseworkers (when they did call me back, I was in the middle of giving birth to Lucas), they ultimately decided they couldn't provide the letter of support I was requesting from them.

Now we're at March. I turned to my local congressional representative, Bill Foster. Within days, his immigration caseworker had mailed an absolutely amazing letter of support. I put this letter on the top of a 60-page packet requesting a Humanitarian Parole from Washington and prayed this would be our chance to get the family together in the US for at least a few more months.

March 16, I sent the packet. March 31, Washington sent their form-letter response. Denied.

We are no strangers to denial at this point. Still, it hurts a little every time. And not just when we think of the time and money that's been wasted. It's so hard to accept that my country thinks this little of the life I've worked hard to build, of my skills and abilities, and of the investments that so many others have made in my future. To reduce my entire experience to a form letter denying my family a chance to exist together in the US for something none of us could help or choose? Just seems beyond heartless.

So now what? Well, we applied for Lucas' passport and once that's here, I hope to book the tickets and fly to Mexico so Carlos can finally meet his son. After that I'll come back, prepare to close the book on our story in the US, and head out into the unknown again...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

He just keeps getting cuter...

We've got a month's worth of photos to prove it.

Click the photo below to go to the new album:

There really will be a new update soon with more details on our little family. Really. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

2 months later...

Kinda haven't posted in awhile. Been a little busy with this adorable little guy:

We've been collecting photos of Lucas on his own Picasa account. See them here:

More update action coming soon!