Friday, January 24, 2014

Immigration NIGHTMARE

I'm making my incredibly unjust immigration story public to garner enough attention to hopefully finally make some progressive change in immigration. It is time to shine a light on cases such as mine that, to date, have no avenue for justice.

I'm a 26 year old from Mexico City who has been in the US legally (through visas) since the age of 3. I speak both languages flawlessly and have fully assimilated to US culture. Despite that, I continue to face insurmountable obstacles toward naturalization. Even the DREAM Act excludes me, shockingly, because I've been here legally vs illegally!

I studied marketing at SMU in the highly competitive business scholar program, and finished in 3.5yrs with a 3.6 GPA. As well, I've been an athlete my whole life, at first as a tennis player gaining top ranking in the state of Texas as a junior and eventually into triathlons in my university years which led to my title as 2x World Champion in Ironman distance.

Graduating in 2008 wasn't ideal given the economic hardship the country was facing at the time so finding a job was rare especially for someone needing a visa sponsorship, like myself. Luckily my stepfather had a job that I qualified for and I've been fortunate to be working part time with Brundage Management since the end of 2009. It is not the job that I ever intended, but it is what has kept me in the US.

However, in Dec 2014 my 5yr H-1B limit for that part time job ends. It is baffling that with my background and exemplary behavior both as a student, athlete, and civilian in the US, I face such obstacles toward residency, much less citizenship.

Moreover, I cannot simply go back to "my country" because I am as foreign to Mexico as any American. I only attended pre-school there and have since visited occasionally on holidays or other vacations. My mother is now a citizen of the US as a result of her marriage to my stepfather. They happened to marry a year after my 18th birthday and thus I could not get officially adopted by my stepfather.

Daniel, my 20 yr old brother, was born in San Antonio and, as such, is a US citizen as well. The fact that two of my immediate family members are US citizens, makes it nearly impossible for me to ever be granted another student visa (for pursuit of a masters degree to extend my stay), or a tourist one (at least for a few years) to visit, in the horrible case that I end up having to return to Mexico.

I want nothing more than to be able to travel freely without the worry of being allowed back to my true “home” in the States, and get a job that aligns with my skills and passions. It does not seem just that there are immigrants working here without any desire to assimilate to US culture, or some that are naturalized after living here fewer years than myself and illegally, to top it off.

I have had tremendous internship offers from companies that could evolve into full time jobs but it's hard for them to hire me, however well qualified I am for the position, because I can't accept an internship- the company would have go through an entire part time visa petition for what they could just get a "work authorized" American on payroll for the next day!

For a full time job It's a horrible catch 22: companies file visa sponsorship mainly for full time over qualified employees, typically with multiple years of experience, but I am not that type of foreigner. I can't help but be just like any Amarican girl/guy in their mid 20s, semi-entry level, because I AM!!...and without the job, I can't get experience.

My life is here, my family is here, and despite being an anomaly to Mexican immigrants, my American Dream should not remain an illusion.