Elena is the daughter of Gail Vandermolen, a Rhode Island constituent who has been a resident for more than 20 years. We ask that Senator Whitehouse please vote NO to the Grassley 21 and 22 amendments. Please read below for her story:
I am an American Citizen. I grew up in Massachusetts where I went to high school and graduated from the University of Massachusetts. When I was seventeen I met my husband Giovanni right in the middle of Harvard Sq. He was young like me and had come here to help his family make a better life back in Guatemala. He worked the entire time he was here doing construction, house painting, printing, and restaurant jobs. We fell in love right away and started dating. Now, 11 years later, we are still in love and trying to stay strong despite the 212 Act that bans my husband for ten years for having entered the country twice as an undocumented. I know what someone reading this might think, “Why didn’t they do things the legal way? “The answer is, we did. Since we were so young and I was in the middle of going to college we knew we were not ready to marry. After two years of being together Giovanni decided to go home and I tried to have him enter on a visa. He was denied the visa and for us to continue being together he had to come back undocumented. At the time, we had absolutely no idea that this move is what would trigger the ten year bar and ineligibility for a waiver, nor did it cross our minds that our children would also have to pay for this. We were married in 2007 after having been together for six years. We had a beautiful daughter named Lindsay who will be 5 on February.
On an evening in July of 2008, when Lindsay was five months old, my husband was picked up off the street in front of our home and deported. At the time he was picked up Giovanni had been working a full time job, paying taxes, and supporting his family financially and emotionally. Since then, we have mostly been living in Guatemala (a third world country) to keep our family together. The cost of traveling between both countries has been very difficult since the plane tickets are expensive. For this reason we are only able to stay here or there for long periods of time. This has been extremely hard on us.
In the town we’ve lived in there are constant gang threats and extortions. A young girl was kidnapped in the middle of town. My husband tried to start a business and was threatened and followed by gang members who wanted to extortion him. For our safety we cannot go out after 5pm. We’ve even had attempted break ins in our own house. Our freedom and safety are completely stripped from us when we live in Guatemala. My daughter and I are targets for kidnapping. When people hear us speak English they know we are foreigners and immediately think we have money.
When Lindsay and I live in Boston, which is not for too long, I have to become a single mother. Although I finished by degree, I have not been able to work on my career due to our unstable life of living in two places. I have only been able to work jobs that pay very little and do not provide enough to keep my family financially covered. This angers me since I worked very hard getting myself through school. Every time we come back here to the US Lindsay cries herself to sleep almost every night and all she has to comfort her is her father’s shirt that has his smell. This breaks my heart. As she gets older things are getting more complicated. We feel that it is better for her to stay here in the US in terms of beginning the foundation of her education, but at the same time she needs her father with her. She wants him to be there at her dance recitals, her school activities, comfort her when she is sick, and support her in all the things that children need their fathers for.
My American parents who adore Lindsay are also paying the price for this ban. They have missed out on much of my daughters early years. They are both over 70 with chronic health issues and can’t travel to a third world country. Lindsay is not only suffering the loss of her daddy, but also the loss of her grandparents when we’ve been in Guatemala.
Aside from entering the country without permission my husband has no criminal record. Under the current Act of 212 Section (a)(9)(c), and the ten year bar that is against my husband, my daughter will be 11 years old when he MAY or MAY not get the opportunity to apply for residency as the spouse of a US Citizen. The point of this act is to make it impossible for us to function as a family. It is unjust and cruel. I believe that as an American Citizen I have the right to keep my family safe and together. I am asking that as a US Citizen that I be treated as well as everybody else in comprehensive immigration reform. I am also asking that I be given my rights to due process, that I be allowed to bring my case before an immigration judge. We, as American Citizens should be given this right to fight for our families to be together, safe, and happy in the country we are from.
Elena is the daughter of Gail Vandermolen, a Rhode Island constituent who has been a resident for more than 20 years. We ask that Senator Whitehouse please vote NO to the Grassley 21 and 22 amendments.