Just the other night I was e-chatting with a friend from immigrate2us.net and mentioned how difficult it is for me personally to be a consistent advocate for immigration reform. Having been a sort of religious fanatic for years, I burned out having to worry about a “cause” all the time, and while I have few doubts about my views on immigration, it’s a struggle to remain motivated.
Especially when most of the news suggests that increasing numbers of Americans resent immigrants, when deportations are on the rise, and there are few reports on the lost spouses and children who are separated from their families every day because of immigration laws.
And then something really horrible happens. It happened a year ago, to a woman I did not know personally. Her husband, waiting in his town in Mexico for his I-601 waiver to be approved so he could come back to the U.S., was randomly beaten to death. Senseless, violent acts that happen to people already separated from their loved ones.
This weekend, it happened again. Liz (not her real name) had been apart from her husband for about 6 months, since he went to his visa interview in the border town of Ciudad Juarez (where all U.S. immigrant visas are issued to Mexican applicants) last November. He was not immediately approved for his waiver and had to remain in Mexico waiting an estimated 6-12 months for a decision.
This weekend, he was kidnapped with two other men from the apartment he was renting in Ciudad Juarez and found dead several hours later.
Thinking objectively, violence happens. There is risk of violence and danger everywhere, although Ciudad Juarez is a violent city even by Mexican standards. It is the center of drug trafficking and a hub of many battles in the “war on drugs.”
But there is an extra measure of horror when a man has been, in many ways, needlessly separated from his wife and kids for six months and is then killed. When a woman has struggled for half a year to maintain her life without her partner, thinking every day: “we are one day closer to him coming back to us,” only to have that hope murdered.
And there is no solution, nothing that relatively few regular people can do to change this particular system. And I suppose that is why writing about immigration is a source of burnout and why I have to go to law school. To be able to do SOMETHING, even if that is just helping a few families get the assistance they need. But for today, there’s just anger and sadness at the injustice…