Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another round...

It has clearly been an eternity since my last post and much has happened. Let's do a quick review for the benefit of those who have been following and wondering, or for those who are new to our story. A lot of this will come from the perspective of my Facebook account.

January 2014

Just to recap, our last visa interview was in Seoul in 2012, where we were denied a visa and the opportunity to file a waiver. Since then policy has changed indicating that people in Carlos' situation SHOULD be able to argue for the chance to file a waiver. So that's what we were doing at the start of the year. I finally gathered the necessary documents and shipped them off to our lawyer so she could file our I-601 waiver.  Here's a picture of the stack of evidence of hardship I sent. Keep in mind this is just a portion of the waiver, as our lawyer then proceeded to construct a thick brief to give all of this context. A major undertaking.

February 2014

Our lawyer finished constructing the waiver and sent it to USCIS to wait in line to be reviewed. At the time, we were anticipating perhaps a 6-month wait.

Spring 2014

A documentary filmmaker contacted us about participating in the filming of a new project on immigration/family separation and the response of faith communities. I was intrigued and we got onboard. He came to film me, my parents, and the kids and then flew to Mexico to interview Carlos. He also interviewed our lawyer and lots of other experts on the topic. More about the documentary below...

July 2, 2014

Almost exactly at the 5-month mark, I got a text message that our case status had changed and could be reviewed online. I was enjoying a summer outing with my kids and parents at Navy Pier when I got that notification. I'll never forget the feelings of dread that flooded over me as I stopped to log in and see what the update said. And I'll never forget the anguish I felt when I read the following:

Later when the denial letter came in the mail, it became apparent that they hadn't even reviewed the facts surrounding Carlos' eligibility for this waiver, nor the merits of our hardship case. Because he had been deemed ineligible in 2012, before this new policy had gone into effect, they hadn't even looked at the waiver, simply denied it.

I had known that this denial was possible but once it became reality, I was devastated. I couldn't believe our separation was going to continue, and the fight was going to drag on.

July 4, 2014

Still reeling, I decided I couldn't deprive my kids of a proper Independence Day in the US (Carolina's first). We went all out, did the parade and fireworks and the whole deal. But all through the celebration, I kept fighting back tears. It's hard to celebrate pride in a country that continues to laugh in the face of your family's commitment. It's hard to enjoy a holiday knowing that I'm being forced to choose between my country and my spouse. And it's really frustrating to constantly rely on my dad to stand in for a husband who is stuck in another country unable to be the father he wants to be to his own children.

 It's especially hard when moments like this occur during the festivities:

late July, 2014

Undaunted by the denial, our lawyer sprang into reaction mode and filed an appeal arguing that we should have been deemed eligible for the waiver and the waiver should be approved. Another 6-month wait, perhaps.

August, 2014

The kids and I headed to Mexico to spend what was left of the summer with Carlos. Those were refreshing weeks. We settled right back into life as a family. Carolina took a little while to work out how she knew Carlos and who he was, but once she figured it out, she eagerly clung to him and followed him everywhere exclaiming, "Daddy!" My heart melted on a constant basis to see my whole family together. We did very badly at taking photos but here are some of the best ones we got:

Our trip was too short, but we had a school year to jump into. We landed back at Chicago O'Hare on a Monday night and Tuesday morning, I was back in the classroom setting up for the year. It was exhausting but in these years of together-apart transitions, I've discovered the importance of being really busy when transitioning back to "apart" so my mind can't dwell too much on the pain of being separated again.

September 2014

Production wrapped up on the documentary, titled "Divided Families: Responding with Faith". It will air on Chicago's PBS affiliate, WTTW channel 11, on Thursday, October 16 at 9pm. Here's a promo clip:

A selection of this documentary will also be shown on Tuesday, September 30 at 6pm at Community Fellowship Church in West Chicago, followed by several other events around the area in the days prior to the airing on WTTW. You can see the schedule, details, and maps here.

For those outside the Chicago area, the documentary will be posted online after it airs on television.

We're really excited to have been a part of this project and excellent care was taken to tell our story accurately and appropriately. Excellent analysis from legal, socio-political, and spiritual perspectives were woven in. Anyone who can should definitely take the time to watch this film!

late September 2014

One final development, which is currently in progress. Unlike a lot of other immigration processes, updates on the progress of an appeal are a bit more cryptic but from what my lawyer can decipher, it appears that this week, our case may have taken a very positive turn. We aren't completely sure yet, and we'll need to wait for official decision letters and a waiver determination, but there could be a chance that 2014 is the last year my family will spend apart! Please continue to pray and keep us in your thoughts, as this separation continues to wear at us. But we are hopeful and eager to see this end, and I'm sure you are as well!


Katie said...

Sorry if this is a duplicate. I've been following your story for years now, and I am hoping that you finally get the happy ending you have been searching. Good luck. Thanks for the update.

Amy G said...

Katie, thanks for the support over all these years! We really appreciate it!

mom said...

Amy, we're so happy to have you and the kids nearby. We look forward to seeing all of you together as a family soon--Let's watch how God works out all of the details the way that only HE can. With so much love,

Anonymous said...

Amy - Praying for you and your family!! This has been very unfair to you! As your Mom said God will work this out!! Keep your faith and continue to fight! WE are all here for you. ALONSO

Anonymous said...

I truly hope that your husband will be back with you and your kids soon. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Oramos a jehova que los ayude a continuar soportando esta situacion, solo el puede dar la paz mental para soportar esta situacion.
Filipenses 4:6, 7.

Isaias 40:29

Saludos a todos..

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