Sylvia & Family - Living Exiled (Scotland)
My name is Sylvia and my husband is Eduardo. I am a U.S. citizen, with roots from Scotland. We met and married in North Carolina. Eduardo worked as an electrician in an urban area and I worked in rural North Carolina, as a home health physical therapist. Our skills were in high demand and we saw our companies struggle to recruit qualified personnel. We were optimistic that our elected representatives would move towards immigration reform to continue growing North Carolina's economy, but the propaganda mill was hard at work especially in North Carolina.
Eduardo is from Mexico City. For over twenty years in the U.S., he has paid his taxes and taken no public benefits. But because he went home to visit his family and returned to the U.S. in 2002, I was unable to apply for legal status for him after we married in 2009. This is because he has a permanent bar based on a law signed by President Clinton in 1996. When the general public hears that someone has a permanent bar from living in the country, the assumption is that they must have committed a violent crime, which is wrong. This is why U.S. citizens in my position live in the shadows: we fear what otherwise good people might think or do based on misinformation. We need legislators to stand up for U.S. citizens and to make the small legislative changes which will allow us to live without fear.
We decided to move to Mexico in May 2017 and lived there for 15 months while we applied for Eduardo’s UK spouse visa. It's not an easy process but in the U.S. there was no legal path for us. I was unable to work as a PT in Mexico because of my lack of fluency in Spanish and because my license allows me only to practice in NC.
We moved to Scotland last August and consider ourselves fortunate. To be able to live without looking over our shoulders is amazing. My adult children live in the United States and we miss them terribly. Our family has seen how the lure of profit can make a country turn its back on its own citizens who simply fell in love with someone undocumented.
Contact Sylvia's Representatives
- Senator Tillis (North Carolina)
- Senator Burr (North Carolina)
- Congressman David Price (North Carolina- District 4)
The Marroquin Family - Living Exiled (Guatemala)
My name is Kimberly Griffith and I’ve been living exiled in Guatemala for over 5 years. I came to Guatemala in November 2013 to remain together with my spouse. This is my story.
My husband came to the US to escape poverty and the gangs that were ever-present in his home city. He worked very hard, sometimes two and three jobs, in order to send money back to his mother and daughter. He was everybody’s friend and could often be found helping anyone who needed his help. Being from a Central American country, his love was soccer and he often played on a community rec team with his friends. He also sponsored children whose parents could not afford the fees associated with being on a team, often paying the registration fees and purchasing the uniforms and shoes for them. As a teacher, his attitude and selflessness appealed to me because it paralleled what I often do in my classroom. We lived a comfortable life until it all came crashing down in March, 2013.
He was stopped by a police officer just before Easter as he went to work. He didn’t have a license (they weren’t available in North Carolina back then), so the officer arrested him and took him to the local jail. He was sent to Georgia, where he was kept for almost 3 months before finally being deported in June.
I moved to be with my husband in November, 2013. During the 5 months he was here without me, I visited twice; those visits made me miss him so much I decided to break my teaching contract and move. I have been here ever since. But it hasn’t been easy. The first four months I was here we only had a cooktop stove, no modern appliances. I bloodied my knuckles every week as I washed our clothes in the pila, a concrete sink outside that was used to wash everything; I suffered through bone-chilling cold showers from that pila also. As a teacher, I was able to secure a job in Guatemala City, but the pay was abysmal and the 3+ hours on a public “chicken bus” every day rivaled that of any big city in the US. I have had an autoimmune thyroid disease since I was 25, but I can’t get the medicine I need because it’s not sold here. I’ve been diagnosed with additional autoimmune diseases while here, plus asthma from an ever-erupting nearby volcano (Volcan Fuego, whose eruption in June 2018 killed over a thousand people and displaced many more). My chronic PTSD from years of childhood abuse remains untreated, as true mental health therapy doesn’t affordably exist here (when it can be found). My husband’s depression from his detention and deportation is just now finally abating after many months of discussion with leaders of the church. Yet my faith in God reminds me every day that I made the right decision to honor my vows before God and keep my marriage intact.
Yes, my husband broke a law by crossing the border without permission and also by necessity, driving without a license, both misdemeanors. Yet, as a US citizen, had I committed a misdemeanor, I would not be separated from my family for years, or permanently, as immigrants are; I’d be given the chance to make things right by paying a fine or spending a few months in jail. My husband’s marriage to me, a US citizen, should count for something, but because of the harsh, punitive immigration laws put into place through the IIRIRA bill of 1996, it does not. We often hear sympathetic talk about the DREAMers who, “through no fault of their own,” are caught up in this immigration mess. But where’s the talk about the US citizens like me and the upwards of 500,000 more who, through no fault of our own, are being punished every day and must choose between keeping our families and marriages intact or staying in our own country? For many, the extreme irony of “getting in line” is the very fact that doing so triggers our own punishment or exile because of the bars implemented in IIRIRA. It is the very definition of a no win situation for me and others like me, as U.S. Citizens who must risk it all and choose between the person that we love and the country that we love. Please reform these inhumane immigration laws so that other citizens like me, have some reasonable opportunity to have our cases resolved so that we can return to our own country with our families intact.