Note: This is a continuation of the piece I’ve written for TheBlaze, which you can find by clicking here. These are the stories in their entirety, divided just as they are in the original piece.
Wayne Scholes (United Kingdom)
(Courtesy of Wayne Sholes, via email)
“I became a citizen of the United States of America in July 2014, it took me over ten years to do and it was worth every minute.
I met a chap on a flight once that had lived in the USA for ten years, we laughed a little because our lives had been relatively similar. Both of us came from Europe, both had children at the same time, both of us worked in the same industry and both of us had moved to the US at the same time. I mentioned I was going through some more immigration paperwork – which honestly seemed like the never ending part of my life in the immigration process – and he laughed at me saying ‘Why on earth would you bother to do that? I have never done it, and won’t do it until, well, you know Americans.’ I honestly had no idea what he was on about, and said ‘No, not really, what do you mean?’
He explained it thus:
‘Americans are always going to give it away every ten years or so, if you just wait long enough you can get it all free. No hassles.’
I asked him if it bothered him that people like me worked hard to do it the right way and people like him didn’t care.
‘Americans don’t respect their own country, especially not when it comes to immigration, it’s all about the votes, and anyway, it happens every ten years or so, so why should I value it if they don’t? More fool you.’
That sentence has stayed with me and frustrated me also.
I value my United States citizenship, it is important to me. I went through a lot to be worthy of it. I paid over $50,000 over ten years to obtain it, it was a goal for me and my family. I studied through the Constitution, through the amendments, through the different government institutions, and I learned as much as I could. Honestly it felt like I was graduating from college when I held that certificate in my hands and took the Pledge of Allegiance. So much work went into it, a truly wonderful day.
So how do I feel about the recent changes that the President has unilaterally made? Well, there are four things that bother me about what the President did and none of them are political in nature:
- I worked hard, and paid for, my US citizenship. I did it legally, others should too.
- How often do we tell our children that unless one works and earns something one will not value it in the same way?
- I would like a refund of the money that I spent over 10 years legally obtaining my United States of America citizenship.
- It’s ironic to me that to help people who broke the law obtain legal US status, President Obama would show complete disrespect for the Constitution and laws he is sworn to uphold and defend.
Honestly I’m gutted. I feel like my efforts were disregarded and frankly – mocked. I feel like I was conned somewhat, like I was the only one at school studying for the big exam and someone brought in the answers and everyone passed but no one but me studied. I feel disillusioned at the process of law in the country that I chose to call home. If the rule of law and respect of the law means nothing to them perhaps I shouldn’t care as much? Problem is that isn’t how I was raised. I can’t live like that.
I have heard all the arguments for why the changes make sense, all the justifications for how illegal immigrants and none of them make sense to me (please stop calling them undocumented immigrants, what they are doing is illegal. If you get pulled over for speeding and you don’t have a driver’s license, not just don’t have one with you, but literally don’t have one – the police don’t call you an undocumented driver – they take you to jail, because it’s illegal and unsafe. ).Much the same as not having the right paperwork for living in a country when nobody knows who you are, where you are from, what you do, or a dozen other things about you that should be known to help keep the country a country ruled by law and fairness. If it is financial then I am afraid you’ll get no sympathy from this English born pasty-faced man. Why? Well, although I am the last person against legal immigration, I have to ask where does one draw the line? How could we say no to anyone else under any circumstance? The idea that just because someone sneaked into the country and that act of not getting caught somehow justifies a work permit and a path to citizenship is no different than saying that because someone didn’t get caught sneaking the jeans out of the shop up their sweater then they should be rewarded with possession of the jeans; it’s completely illogical.
Migrant work permits exist and are obtainable. Yes they cost some money, but then so does crossing the border illegally; but rather than take the time to do it legally and respectfully, some people choose to do it illegally. They circumvent the process and head to work. Does the system need reform? You bet it does. Is this an excuses for someone to break the law? Nope. No different than if I get pulled over for speeding, and my excuse is that the guy in front of me was going soooo slow for ages and so when I got the chance to zoom past him I did so and it was because he was so slow that I was speeding, I still get a ticket. Even if the other guy was wrong, the basic principle of two wrongs don’t make a right still holds true. My mom taught me that. I obtained my initial visa through that broken system and paid to do so. I saved up enough money to get it. Was it easy? No. Did it happen when I wanted it? No, it required patience.
I appreciate my citizenship because I damn well earned it. Lying to obtain a green card would be punished if it were done on the paperwork we fill in upon application, but as long as you skip the paperwork then the lying is all good and forgiven. How does that make any sense? Actually under this measure the lie and illegal activity is rewarded with a visa. Nice. Actually not nice, simply wrong. A system overhaul is required, I agree, but rewarding dishonesty is simply setting the country up for failure when we add people that didn’t respect the country enough to go through the hard work of gaining entry the legal and proper way.
Let me tell you what I did when I was waiting for my first work permit:
I lived on my savings which was $3800 for the six months until my visa came through. Then I was given a temporary work visa – six months. Nobody would hire me because I was on such a short visa, I was waiting for a two year visa. So I worked at a gas station ($6p/h) on the night shift because nobody else would. I cleaned toilets ($4.50p/h) during the day from 0800-1200. Then I went home and slept until about 1700. Then I got up and shoveled snow or did landscaping services ($6.50p/h) until my night shift started at 2200.
I saved all I could after paying rent, bills, and groceries. Once we (we were just married) saved up enough I applied for permanent residency, it took almost the full year to save up. I worked seven days a week for the entire time. It was hard. Really hard. I cleaned toilets for a living, cleaning up after everyone – including legal and illegal people. I did what I needed to do in order to be honest and legal. I worked hard and earned every penny and I still contributed to my family back in the U.K.
So do I understand this situation? I truly do, but stealing citizenship was never an option no matter how noble my desires or how pressing the obligation. I respect this country, I chose it, and I honored it by following the imperfect, dysfunctional, and expensive laws.
Does the system need to be fixed? Yes. Do I think hardworking, honest people (regardless of education) deserve a way to enter the country to provide services of ALL kinds? Yes. Do I think everyone who moves here should be able to speak English? Yes, I learned French so I could move to France. Do I think ignoring the Constitution and commencing a legal status based on illegal behavior and dishonestly is a good idea that will elevate the country? No. No, I don’t.”
Tina Prien (Germany)
(Courtesy of Tina Prien, via email)
“My name is Tina Prien, and I was born in 1967 in Cologne (Germany). I have been visiting the U.S. very often starting in 1984 after I had become friends with a girl from Minnesota, whose mother—by the way—was a German immigrant herself.
I loved the States right away. Back then it was anything but normal for a 16-year old girl to travel to the States. Needless to say: I fell in love with this wonderful country even though I had it all in Cologne, Germany. It almost felt like I was at least 50% American. The family I stayed with even renamed me since they felt that ‘Martina’ (my legal name) did not sound American enough. So I ended up being ‘Marty Jo’ and from then on made sure I could come and visit as often as possible.
But sure enough life in Germany went on. I got married, became a mother and visited the U.S. a couple of times with my ex-husband and my daughter. When we got divorced in 2000, my daughter and I packed everything up and moved to Minnesota so I could go to Brown College to study TV production. After a little less than two years, once I had my Associates Degree, I had to leave because I was only in the U.S. on a student visa which did not allow me to work other than 20 hours on the Campus. I ended up as an unpaid intern for a TV station in the Twin Cities while my class mates would make 12-15$/hr. But I did not really care, I had my own funds, paid for my tuition and of course had to prove to the U.S. government before receiving my Visa that I had the funds to carry my daughter and myself financially for the duration of my studies.
We moved back to Germany in 2002 and visited the U.S. numerous times until that day I met my California-born husband on Christian Singles. We started communicating starting with e-mails, then Skype sessions, calls at first every few days and very soon on a daily basis. After 8 months in May 2011 I flew to San Francisco to meet Pat for the first time. We just knew that that was it. It felt like coming home. After flying back and forth every few months we were both pretty broke but happy as can be. In November 2011 my husband proposed to me in my hometown in Germany. After another couple of flights I visited my husband in California again and 7 days before I had to leave the U.S. we drove to Lake Tahoe and got married.
By then we had an immigration attorney who informed us that we had to file for adjustment of status. Little did we know what that meant. Finally after thousands of dollars for attorney fees, INS fees, doctor fees, humiliating blood tests for syphilis (what would the nurse think why I had to go through that test?) fingerprinting, postage, evidence (gazillions of pictures, printouts of emails, phone records, letters, cards) etc. we eventually were invited to an interview in Southern California.
I have to admit, even though we didn’t have anything to hide and even though we were for real, I was very nervous. What if the officer would ask me something I wasn’t able to answer?
However, he was a good judge and all our evidence convinced him obviously enough to even give me a stamp in my passport so I could fly to Germany without the fear not to be able to enter the US in case my green card would not be there on time.
But everything went well. My green card arrived in March 2013 and finally I did not have to live on my husband’s income as a retired veteran anymore. I could now officially apply for jobs and ended up as a bank teller in our home town.
They say we Germans are hard workers and I guess it’s quite true. I have always worked since I was 18. Living on my husband really was not good for my pride, yet I would have never jeopardized my stay in the U.S. by working on the side for cash, for example. This would have been wrong and I always had respect for the US. I am an immigrant, a foreigner. The least thing I can do is behave, speak your language and stay out of trouble.
When I heard about ‘rewarding’ the illegal immigrants in this country I have to admit it hit me hard. That was a slap in my face. While I am preparing more paperwork at this point to have my conditions removed from my green card (and yes, that will cost hundreds of dollars again); while I am trying everything to do it the right way, the country that I used to respect so much is basically awarding criminals?
I know that life “ain’t fair;” that’s what they say. But for heaven’s sake, what are you thinking Mr. Obama? This is your last term and the best you can do is to leave a legacy like that? Do you actually know how many people would love to come and live in the U.S. and they can’t? And the once who are lucky to live here, like myself, had to jump through hoops, invest lots of money and try to be part of this society as good as they can? Do you also know that if my daughter would like to follow me to the U.S. she would have to wait 5 to 8 years to receive a family visa because she is over 21? And do you know, Mr. President that your decision is a big slap in every legal immigrant’s face? I am now a legal immigrant, a legal resident, who is married to a decorated veteran who made it possible for people like you to live in peace? I am very proud of my husband who jeopardized his life more than once, who did his duty including two tours to Iraq. But I have to admit that I am not proud of you, I don’t have the same respect for this beautiful country anymore. I am angry, I feel betrayed and I am only one out of probably millions of immigrants who did it the right way.
I work, I pay taxes, I have a clean background, I speak your language, I respect your laws and regulations … So tell me Mr. President: Are you kidding me?”
Bryan Preston (Japan)
(Courtesy of Bryan Preston, via email)
“I am Bryan Preston from Texas. My immigration story is a common one. I was born and raised in Texas, and both sides of my family have been Americans since the decade or two before the American Revolution. In fact, I know of one ancestor who defended America in both the Revolution and the War of 1812. He was a very young soldier in the first, and obviously much older in the second.
I joined the Air Force after graduating college, was sent to Tokyo, Japan and there I met the woman of my dreams at a little church near Yokota Air Base. We got married after dating for a few months. She happens to be a citizen of Japan, so we have followed all of the laws and paid the fees over the years so that she can legally live in the United States.
President Obama’s amnesty decree is lawless in my opinion, and it’s a slap in the face of everyone who respects and defends the law. It falls outside his executive authority. It’s a violation of his own oath of office. And it’s an insult to everyone who is following and respecting America’s immigration laws. President Obama is treating the Constitution with contempt.
We started the process when we got married in 1995. She’s still a green card holder, as her family still lives in Japan. We’ve probably spent in the low thousands on the whole process over time, both in Texas and in Maryland where we used to live. We’ve also spent quite a few hours on office visits etc. and have had to burn vacation time for some of that. It was all expedited for us compared to most, because I was in the military and she is from an allied country. Many others who follow the laws face much longer waits than we have, and have paid much more out of pocket. Obama’s decree is very unfair to them.”
Paty Newman (Mexico)
(Courtesy of Paty Newman, via email)
“My story is a little different than the story of those that immigrated legally to America, as I’m not an immigrant. I’ve combined my story and my response to Obama, because they are difficult to separate.
I was born in Los Angeles of two Mexican Nationals. My parents were here finishing their education. They had made arrangements for me to be born in Mexicali, Baja California, but by the Grace of God, I came early.
When they completed their studies, I was 6 months old, and they returned to Mexico where I was raised. They did not anchor me! They respected the laws of the United States.
My story is particularly relevant to Obama’s excuse for his unilateral unconstitutional action. Family is very important in the Mexican culture. No loving parent would ever abandon their child in a foreign country! No decent human being would ever do such a thing.
Our president seems to think that it is selfish and mean of us to “separate families,” he is completely ignoring the fact that the choice to abandon a child would lie squarely on the parents of the child, and not the citizens who want our laws to be faithfully executed.
I knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in Mexico. The corruption of the government and unequal application of laws made me understand why Mexico’s population did not have an equal opportunity to succeed.
In Mexico, if you are well connected, or have money to buy anyone in the government, laws can be disregarded in your favor. Exceptions apply.
In Mexico you may be made to “disappear” if you publicly criticize the government. Just Google how many reporters have been shot for trying to expose corruption.
My dad, may he rest in peace, used to warn me about my tendencies to loudly voice my opinion. I guess some things never change!
When I went to the university in Guadalajara, Mexico, I met this fabulous American guy! We dated for three years, and he asked me to marry him. So I guess I was meant to come back to America.
I arrived in September of 1984, and my first political statement came only a few months later, when I voted for President Reagan (second term). I even had my husband take a picture of me. He originally didn’t understand how this meant so much to me.
I told my husband a common joke in Mexico. “Americans brag about how soon after an election they can count the votes and find out who will be the next president, in Mexico we all know it six months ahead of time”.
I’ve been a reluctant activist for a long time. The first day I took my first born son to school, the front desk person noticed our skin tone and suggested I enrolled my son in the “Spanish” classroom (in those days they had something called a bilingual program). I promptly told her no, I want him in the regular class. “But aren’t you Mexican,” she asked.
“No, we are American!”
Obama’s announcement this past week was a slap in the face to my parents. They did not take advantage of the opportunities they could have benefited from by using me as an anchor baby. They did the right thing!
Those of us that have lived under the rule of a corrupt government, know how important it is to maintain and protect the rule of law.
That sense of security can’t be replaced by anything! Knowing the law applies equally to rich or poor, to black, brown or white allows for everyone to achieve as much as one wants to achieve.
The president wants to create special rights for people that have violated our immigration laws. But I don’t just blame him for that. I challenge those that would benefit from his lawlessness to remember why they left their country of origin.
They escaped the unfairness that comes from applying the law differently for different special groups of people.
Today, they are asking us to make those same exceptions. If we succumb to those demands our individual opportunities for success will die, and with that the greatness of America.”
Robert S. (Italy)
(Courtesy of Robert S., via email)
My wife is an immigrant from Italy. When we made the decision for her to move her some 14 years ago, We followed the U.S. immigration laws to the letter, which also meant we were separated for 5 months while we awaited document processing in her native country. We spend numerous days waiting to be seen, spent thousands on fees, and lost days of work. We did everything that we were supposed to do.
My wife eventually became a naturalized citizen, and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. Now we watch our own President shred the Constitution and reward millions of criminals, citing a broken immigration system that HE broke.
There are many people from around the world who want to come to the U.S., but they do not share a border that they can walk across. They Democrats speak of fairness, well—what about fairness to them? Why is the priority no longer with helping American citizens, but rather millions of law breakers? We are a nation of laws, yet our own President ignores them all. This is a dark day in American history.
Miho T. (Japan)
(Courtesy of Lisa T., via email with permission from Miho T.)
My plan was to have this to you Saturday morning, but as my daughter-in-law began sharing her story… I found there was much more to the story than I realized. This will be a bit more long-winded than intended as I am sorting through her journey at the same time.
My daughter-in-law, Miho, first came to the United States on a Study Abroad program from Japan. While in Japan, she watched the soap opera “Santa Barbara” and decided to go to school there. After paying an agency a $1,000 fee, an English Language School, housing and a special visa were arranged. The school had a two year program and long as Miho was a full-time student, she could stay in the country. The school cost $750/mo and International housing was another $750/mo. During this time, she was not allowed to work.
Miho loved America and decided to go through the process to remain in the country. She weighed her options and though the sacrifices would be heavy, Miho decided to go through process to legally remain. There were others she knew who chose not to go the legal route, but those who did spent years and thousands of dollars.
A lawyer was hired for $5,000 and through his suggestion, Miho attempted to get a student visa. This meant she had to apply and be accepted to a new school. She had finished her language school. The school arranged through the lawyer was $300/unit and Miho had to maintain full-time status. She was still not eligible to work. Four years into the process and very close to finally getting her green card, President Bush made changes to the Immigration process.
The resulting extension to the process forced the lawyer to switch to applying for a work permit. Due to these changes, Miho’s lawyer required an additional $4,000 to complete the changes.
Miho still had to maintain full-time student status and was still unable to work.
During this time, Miho was not allowed to leave the U.S. This meant seven years of not seeing her family.
In 2009, she finally got her green card. This allowed Miho to return home shortly after receiving her green card, because her father was ill. She was able to spend a short amount of time with him before he passed away.
Because of the long and expensive journey to becoming a Permanent Resident of the United States, Miho watched the amnesty speech by President Obama with interest. She is not eligible to vote and therefore does not always pay close attention to the issues. This, however, got her attention. It surprised her to not have such an important announcement aired on major networks considering the number of people it affected.
As she listened to the president speak, a confused look crossed her face. Thinking she was misunderstanding because of the language barrier, she asked if she had heard correctly. All weekend, she has repeatedly asked how this could happen. She wonders how those who made a decision to enter and remain in the United States illegally can be rewarded with a fast-track to residency/citizenship. They do not have the fear of deportation, so she thinks that will encourage more to come.
We once watched a news story on a Cuban who entered the country illegally. He was picked up from the ocean by helicopter and “processed” into the US. He was taken to a huge room and handed new pants, shirt and a very nice down jacket. Miho wonders why so much is given to those who enter illegally and those who do it the right way get nothing. To be certain, she has never felt the U.S. owes her anything, she came of her own freewill and feels it an honor to part of this country. However, it bothers her that millions are sneaking in and acting as though the U.S. owes them an education, food, clothing, housing.
Miho understands that there are is an automatic reaction by man to bring up the topic of compensation for entering the U.S. the legal way. While she understands this sentiment and sympathizes with it, she doesn’t feel the U.S. owes her anything. Having the life she has is the reward. She would never expect free healthcare, clothing, and food but feels it unfair that those who entered illegally are being pampered and given special privileges to make staying in America far easier.
She says part of the beauty of being in this country is the struggle it took to get here. She feels like she showed respect for the country and has followed the laws from the beginning. Those who entered illegally have shown they have no respect for America and its laws.
Miho is also incredibly surprised at how the President (as well as a couple other liberal defenders of this illegal act) has been referring to immigrants as fruit pickers, people who make our beds, change our bedpans, mow our lawns, take out our garbage, etc. Now that it’s been a couple days, she’ll make a joke as she goes about her daily life, “See, here’s the immigrant sweeping the floor” “Here’s the immigrant taking out the trash”.
She jokes but I can tell it hurts her. She doesn’t understand the nuances of politics; i.e. the need for the Left to pull at the heartstrings of compassion (by referring to all immigrants as poor, low-skilled workers) in order to slide through this illegal action.
The irony of it all is that Miho would not have received a work permit to be a server at McDonalds or work as a maid. She was told work permits go for highly skilled employees, and not service industry. She ended up finding a sponsor in Santa Barbara who hired her as a sushi chef because hiring her as a server would not qualify.
Since the announcement, Miho has looked back on all the years she had to pay thousands of dollars to remain in school because the process took so long. In fact, she has referred to herself as “dumb” for spending so much time and money, and wonders if she should have waited. She has tried to wrap her head around what the President has done. She is confused about the political process (Constitution, Branches of Government) that she once thought she understood.
Today Miho is married to my son, and together they have a child. She is still a permanent resident, and is still faced with renewal every 10 years. Should she decide to become naturalized—she faces yet another process . . . as millions are excused from the consequences of not following the very laws she and so many others have.”