This Jealous and Envious Immigration Activist

So today I have to tell on myself in the interest of becoming a better immigration activist.

Through my one-woman show, blogging and the like, I’ve met other women who are in my situation, i.e., their lives were turned upside down, either through their partner’s deportation, or their threat of deportation.

Meeting these women transforms my life. (Up to this point, I’ve yet to meet a man in my situation, i.e., the citizen spouse.)

Each woman who reaches out to me gives me the strength to continue. I think of them when I’m anxious about getting onstage. I think of them when I feel, “What’s the point?” when it comes to this blog.

I think of them when I feel that no one gets what I’ve been through.  And I feel less alone.

I believe that if I knew even just one of these women when my husband Picasso was first deported, I wouldn’t have hit the depths of depression and hopelessness that I hit when everything came down in April of 2001.

So far so good, right?

Well, here’s where it gets messy and embarrassing.

In the time that I’ve known some of these women, their spouse’s situation changed. Some of their husbands received their permanent residency.

Some of them are now on a path towards residency, when it originally was seen as pretty much impossible.

Others had a window open where a door was closed. Those windows are huge and welcoming.

Peeps, I’ve been surprised by my bitchy reactions when their news changes.

I don’t sleep easy at night, thinking that we’re all one step closer to immigration reform.

I don’t yell out in celebration, and run to tell Picasso the news.

I become mean and small and hard. In those moments, I’m most definitely not an activist in the immigration reform movement. I’m not in this fight for the long haul.

What I am is lost in a thick fog of jealousy, envy, and anger.

I think about the fact that if  Picasso’s situation never shifts, then I’m here in Mexico until at least April of 2021. I’ll be 51 years old.

And even then, even if the 20 years do have to go by, there’s still no guarantees if Picasso and I will ever again walk hand-in-hand down the streets of Manhattan.

And I think, “Why their spouse, and not mine?”

That becomes a mantra. I wear it like a tattoo on my tongue.

But it’s funny and complicated the ways that our minds work: If the undocumented students, the DREAMers were able to get their US citizenship tomorrow, I’d have a big old party. I’d be excited by the number of activists who could come out of the shadows and fight for the rest of us.

But when it’s someone’s spouse, that’s when I get a little cuckoo in the head.

I want to throw out this jealousy and envy stew that I’ve been cooking in my cuckoo head for the past few months.

At the end of the day, that jealousy and envy stew isn’t sustenance to keep me fighting for immigration reform.

It’s poison.

And it’ll eat me alive, if I’m not vigilant.

Naming it to claim it, to take the shame away from it, y’all dig?


5 thoughts on “This Jealous and Envious Immigration Activist

  1. What an inspiring post! It gives me courage to continue my fight for ALL THINGS immigration! We must never forget stories such as yours and the damage incurred by the machinations of a cold, subjective federal leviathan only interested in pursuing its own interests; interests of preserving a corporatist and elitist oligarchy. And the “promises” from on high (1600 Penn. Ave.) are empty, chilling reminders of just how insignificant “reform” and “reunification” are to our leaders. While 200 thousand marchers boldly took to the streets of Washington, ICE was issuing a memorandum boldly stating that this year it wanted to DEPORT all of those 200 thousand marchers TIMES TWO! What the hell is wrong with that picture?
    Hasta la victoria siempre!


  2. From someone who understands, realize friends are there…I always am. Thanks for discussing this, admitting is the first step! And I know you love me and my hubby…even though we have our papers.


  3. I totally hear you, and your frustration is so valid. What upsets me even more is when bystanders look at situations like those as the norm and situations like mine, like yours as the exception– “what did you do wrong?” or “I know a good lawyer…” The only thing I find somewhat heartening about their naivety is that they can’t stomach such injustice in the American immigration system. Maybe it’s my naivety, but that makes me hopeful that the more people become aware of the reality of immigration in America, the more movement there will be to address it. As it stands now, the best defense against the system is voodoo, rabbits’ feet, and shamrocks.


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