(names in this story may have been changed to protect identity...)
I recently met a man with a touching and heart breaking real life story. He was applying to rent one of our homes, and explained that he was looking for a place for himself and his four kids- 2 teens and 2 toddlers. I started asking specific questions about his living situation, trying to determine if he needed a 2 or a 3 bedroom unit (if he has all 4 kids full time, etc). He explained that he does in fact have all the kids full time because his wife is in CA dealing with some problems in becoming a citizen.
I asked him if there was a reason she couldn't deal with those issues from Michigan? Unfortunately, yes there is...
Her name is Maria. She came to California before her first child was born. She was here legally with a work visa (?). She has spent most of her adult life here working and trying to make a good life for here and her kids. She paid a lawyer to help get her citizenship, and thought everything was all set. Soon, she met my new friend Anthony, fell in love, got married and started a family with him. She wanted to make sure that everything really was legal with her citizenship. That's when everything went wrong. Apparently, that lawyer who helped her didn't really help her. He did what many lawyers helping immigrants do, took the money and did nothing. So it turns out that there was a couple months of lapse between when her visa expired and when she got married, meaning that she was unknowingly here illegally during that time. An investigation started and now she is having all sorts of problems becoming a citizen, even though she is married to an American, and all four of her kids are citizens. Last year she was detained in a prison camp while our government decides if she can stay or if she will be deported. Her youngest would have been about 6 months old at the time.
Anthony tells me that they were allowed to go see here once per week. The older toddler would cry the whole time they were there. Can you imagine how that must feel to the mother who has been taken away from her children? The one time per week that she sees them, he is so distraught by the situation that he just cries.
As the legal battle continued to drag on, Anthony decided that he needed to move back to Michigan to have the support of his family. I'm sure it is difficult to afford the cost of living in CA on one income, and on top of that he was suddenly raising 2 teens and 2 toddlers on his own.
He told me about how much he loves all of the kids, and about how difficult it is to raise them all on his own. He told me how much more he respects all that Maria had done- working, caring for the kids all day, keeping the house clean. He said he knows now that she worked much harder than he ever gave her credit for.
I asked him how much longer until this might get resolved. The soonest that it could happen is in March. that's the next court date. If it goes well, she could get out and come back to be with her family again as a citizen. Or, it could keep getting delayed with more court dates and more waiting periods. All while her kids keep growing up without her and keep needing a mom. It could go on for 5 years, or she could just get deported at any time if that's what they decide.
Maria cries a lot. How could she not? I can't even imagine being able to handle such an awful situation. It's like a nightmare come true. All because she wanted to check and make sure that everything was done correctly and legally.
I told Anthony that I would be praying for this situation. Please join me in praying...
-for Maria and her sadness in not being with the kids, and also that this will all come to an end in March and she will be released as a citizen to come live with her family again.
-for Anthony as he struggles to raise all the kids on his own for now, and for the difficulties he faces both financially and emotionally.
-for the kids as they struggle to live a stable life without their mother. for fear of the unknown. For teenagers who may really need their mother's influence in their lives right now, and who have had to adjust to their step dad as the only parent. For toddlers who may be too young to even remember their mom right now, that they will adjust to having her back with open arms with minimal emotional scarring.