Today’s daily post prompt asks us to connect a global issue to a personal one. While I’m passionate about a lot of global issues, few of them are personal to me. But then I remembered something, so here goes.
When my husband was sworn in as a US citizen in December, I cried. All the new immigrants–some of whom barely spoke English–sang the national anthem, and I got a little misty.
I didn’t cry for my husband. Our struggle for his citizenship can’t even be called a struggle. The biggest challenge we faced was getting his criminal record. (He got a speeding ticket in Louisiana but plead the charge down to something lesser so he would pay a smaller fine. So when he had to disclose his criminal history, he couldn’t remember anything about the ticket. We had to call the court houses in every parish from New Orleans to the Texas border.) I cried for those who have a tough go at it. It’s been said to death that our immigration system is broken. It truly is. It’s not set up for families. You can have legal status, but your children might not. You can come here on a work visa but barely be able to support your family because your spouse, though here legally, cannot work. You can meet the requirements for a particular status but be stymied by a racist state judge.
Rodi Alvarado was beaten and almost killed by her husband. L.R. was raped repeatedly then set on fire by a coach at her high school. They both were denied asylum because the US only grants asylum to people who are persecuted for their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Not gender. Even though women and children suffer the most in humanitarian crises. Even though the UN–when drafting the asylum guidelines–noted that gender should be considered a “particular social group.” And these two women are, of course, not alone.
So, yes, I’m a sap, but I cried. My husband’s life is honestly not so changed by his citizenship. Yes, he’s happy to be here and proud of his new country and wants to give to his new country. But we were ok before. I cried for the people in the room who went through hell and back to come here–first in their own country and then through our broken immigration system.