Green Card Blues | Letters | Chicago Reader

Green Card Blues 

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My sister married her husband, who is from Saudi Arabia, in January 2005 and they began the process of filing for his permanent residency in February. At this point, they have spent more than two years and thousands of dollars trying to get USCIS to grant him residency, but to no avail. Their case has now been denied three times, in three different but equally ridiculous ways, despite extensive documentation of their life together, affidavits from my family, and their compliance with everything USCIS has asked of them.

My sister's I-130 was actually approved--meaning the immigration adjudicator determined it was a legitimate marriage--but my brother-in-law has been denied a green card because, according to USCIS, he didn't register for the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System quickly enough, although he registered as soon as he learned of it, in the presence of his lawyer.

To put it another way, USCIS has agreed that they are a real couple--a family--but they have decided to NOT let them be together based on a registration that was racist to begin with, didn't work, and doesn't even exist anymore! If that's not an infringement upon my sister's civil liberties as an American citizen and a show of blatant bigotry towards my brother-in-law, I don't know what is.

Like Nicole and Wajahat's ["Homeland Security Wrecks a Home," March 23], my sister's case has been additionally held up by gross factual errors and failure to send necessary communication on the part of USCIS. While our family waits and prays that the petition they've recently filed to have his case reviewed will be granted, my sister and her husband are forced to try to get by on my sister's small salary as a preschool teacher and financial assistance from family because my brother-in-law is legally unable to work. He also hasn't seen his family for six years because now that he and my sister are enmeshed in these legal proceedings, his attorney has advised him against leaving the United States, at the risk of being barred from ever returning, like Wajahat.

I commend Nicole and Wajahat for being brave enough to share their story--and believe me, when your family's right to be together is dependent on navigating the frightening, confusing whims and processes of USCIS, it is really scary to speak out.

The next time somebody asks why undocumented immigrants can't just go about coming and staying here legally like everyone else, please direct them to this story--and to my family's story. For thousands of families in the U.S. right now, immigrating the "right way" results in separation, deportation, and worse.

Is splitting up my family really keeping America safer?

Rachel Devitt

Lincoln Square


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