when it’s too much

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…

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5 Responses to when it’s too much

  1. gabachayucateca says:

    I’m certainly in the same place as you are, Laura. So much, in fact, that I spent a bit of time researching Compassion Fatigue, which is very real.

    It’s absolutely horrific that not one, but two (and even one is awful) men have been murdered while awaiting a decision on their waiver. But I can’t help but think that those who are given the opportunity to file a waiver on their loved ones’ behalf are extremely lucky and blessed. Even taking into consideration the fact that there is going to be a separation period. At least there’s a way to fix their status, when so many will never have the opportunity to do so.

    My thoughts on the waiver process are complicated, and I imagine not particularly welcome by those who are in the midst of the process. While I don’t imagine the waiting to be pleasant and it’s surely painful, I guess I just don’t see it as being as egregious and cruel as others do. I do recognize that it’s scary to be separated and not be sure of the outcome, but at least those who submit hardship waivers are given the opportunity to have their spouses make amends for being out of status (or never having it in the first place).

  2. laurafern says:

    GY – I understand your thoughts. I do not believe the laws that require waivers, all in all, to be egregious or cruel. I don’t really think someone who has failed to obey immigration laws should rightfully have the same easy access to a visa that someone who has never broken the law has.

    At the same time, there are certain points that I take issue with: the fact that someone can have an arrest (no conviction, no trial, no evidence, just an arrest) on their record and based on that be “suspected” of drug trafficking and given a lifetime bar on re-entering the U.S. This happened to an I2US member’s friend recently. Her husband was told he may never return to the U.S. legally, and in reality, he did nothing. He was in the company of someone who attempted to sell drugs to an undercover cop. He was arrested and later released – no charges, nothing against him at all. The consular officer decided this was enough to “suspect.” There is basically no recourse to overturn this decision.

    That’s just one example.

    What happened to “Liz” from the forum is horrible, but ultimately, her husband was in the wrong place at the wrong time and nothing about his death had anything to do with immigration. It’s still tragic that they were separated.

  3. mimsies says:

    Oh my goodness, those are terrible, terrible stories. Do you know if the men were beaten to death because of their status as immigrants? Were they victims of hate crimes? Not that that makes the deaths any more or less tragic and senseless.

  4. laurafern says:

    I know a little more info now. This happened just over the border, in Mexico, so it had nothing to do with immigration. Basically, some drug-lord types broke into his gated apartment community looking for one man in particular, his name is in the news stories, and they apparently weren’t certain about the apartment so they broke into three consecutive apartments and took three men. Guilty by neighboring, I guess. =(

  5. Melissa says:

    I definitely agree with you on your comment, Laura. The general process isn’t the problem…the weird ways that they manage to screw those in the out-of-the ordinary situations is.

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