The stories below are based off real client experiences. However, all names and specific details have been altered as a matter of privacy and confidentiality.
This holiday season has not been bright or merry for many immigrants across the country. Politicians and TV personalities have used fear to stoke discrimination and hatred against non-citizens, particularly Muslims and people of color. This dark and stormy rhetoric has clouded the stories of immigrants who contribute every day to the safety and vitality of the U.S.
I want to take some time to shed light on non-citizens who have contributed positively to the U.S. They are the stories that too often are not told and are not heard.
Tom came to the U.S. 15 years ago from northern Africa, fleeing his oppressive family. He initially came to the U.S. for business opportunities. However, he fell in love and stayed in the U.S. He started a successful business and got married. The marriage did not last, however and neither did the business. Tom was not deterred though, despite some obstacles. He continued his quest for his American Dream. He re-married, had a child and started another business.
Tom’s quest took a negative turn, however, when immigration officers determined that he withheld information about his family on his previous application for permanent status in the U.S. Fortunately, Tom was allowed to apply for relief that would waive his mistake based on his family in the U.S. An immigration judge agreed that Tom should stay in the U.S. as a permanent resident because of his family and his many contributions to the U.S. Tom is one of many immigrant entrepreneurs. Despite making up less than 13 percent of the population, immigrants are responsible for creating a quarter of new businesses in the U.S. and are twice as likely to take the risk to start a business than natural-born citizens.
Marcos settled in Kansas after coming from Mexico more than 20 years ago. He worked hard to provide for his family in the U.S. and Mexico. He never had children of his own, but he married a woman with two sons. He treated those children as his own and taught them how to work hard and show respect. Both young men joined the U.S. Armed Forces after high school. They have been successful because of their parent’s support and guidance.
One night, Marcos was pulled over for a broken tail light. He did not have a license and the police arrested him. Immigration officers determined that he did not have any legal status in the U.S., and he was placed in immigration court proceedings. Marcos was married to a U.S. citizen but because he came to the U.S. with permission, he would have to leave the U.S. before he could return as a permanent resident. However, because Marcos had no criminal history and his step-sons were members of the Armed Forces, under a program called Parole in Place, immigration officials agreed to treat Marcos as if he came to the U.S. with permission. He could adjust status in the U.S. without having to leave his wife alone in a country their children risked their lives to protect.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. If you are in removal proceedings or need legal advice on your immigration case, please contact an immigration attorney.