My stint as a Journal Sentinel Community Columnist is pretty officially over, as they new group starts next week, and they have enough columns turned in to get through until then. I was admittedly flaky the past few months, but there’s been something really challenging about the post-immigration-journey analysis of our experience. Besides that, summer is the busiest time at work, meaning far fewer solid blocks of writing time during the day. (Of course, I have no absolutely right to complain about that, so enough said).
Besides the opportunity to share an unusual perspective on immigration in a well-read public forum, the best thing about being a Community Columnist were the responses. For every few legalistic, fundamentalist or blatantly racist e-mails, I received one genuinely supportive one. I also received a few notes from readers who had no idea how strict our legal immigration system is, and were genuinely surprised that there is no legal way into the U.S. without a relative or an existing job offer (and there can be waits for 5-10 years in many of those situations as well). I got into a few very interesting e-mail exchanges and received a few strange snail mail letters (yes Mom, I know I should unlist my address and phone number) suggesting that I am actually the writer behind all the pro-immigrant staff editorials for the Journal Sentinel, among other things.
But one of the best results came today, when I checked my respondtolaura address, the one I use publicly to protect my regular e-mail account from excessive spam, and found two e-mails from women who had read my last column and were desperately seeking information on how to pursue legalization for their undocumented spouse. I can’t express how happy it makes me to be able to introduce people with little hope for their situations to one of the immigration forums, or help them figure out what they need to do next. There is so much bad information out there, particularly from lawyers and immigration consultants, and I feel endlessly grateful that I found immigrate2us when I did. Had I not, some issues with our case might have done the sort of damage that takes ten years in Mexico to recover from.
I plan to continue reading, writing and especially blogging about immigration, and I hope that once or twice next year Journal Sentinel Editorial Editor Ricardo Pimentel might print something I write on whatever immigration news comes up.