The Deportee’s Racist and Classist Wife

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Now that my husband’s I-212 waiver was approved, we had to complete a DS-260 application. After the application is processed (3-5 business days) I’ll be calling to set up an appointment for my husband at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.

The DS-260 is extensive. There are a lot of sections and questions. One of the sections asks the applicant to list the addresses of all the places where they’ve lived since they were 16 years old.

Picasso is now 39. He was 16 in 1989.

My husband’s residencies where he lived in Mexico were easier to figure out. However, he lived in many different places in the U.S. This isn’t unusual for someone who is undocumented in this country.

There usually are no rent receipts, no utility bills, no credit history – and if there are, they’re usually not in the person’s real name. Some living situations were shady and tricky for my husband, due to his undocumented status.

So I kept clicking on the “add an entry” button on the DS-260 to add another address.

Picasso couldn’t remember all of the exact building numbers for the places where he lived. We turned to Google Maps for help. Walking the virtual streets of New York and Chicago to find the building numbers.

I felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of the DS-260. I was angry about the questions that were being asked on the application. My flight back to the United States was the next day.

After an hour of thick, thick tension that was completely of my creation, I ended up screaming at Picasso, “Jesus Christ! Why can’t you remember all of the damn places where you’ve lived? Why is this so fucking hard for you?”

The TV show that we had on while working on the application continued to play in the background. The canned audience laughter washed over the room.

After a cooling off period, I circled back and cleaned up my mistake. My husband was kind and accepting of the clean-up and we continued to have a really good final evening before I got back on a plane the following morning.

However, I feel that it’s important for me to share and name these moments. I feel that it’s important because if you’re a U.S. citizen and have been marked by U.S. immigration policy, and/or you consider yourself to be a pro-immigration activist, we must face our own racism and classism. Our privilege that is always there, even as we sit and help our husband complete a DS-260 form during our final night in Mexico.

Having a deported husband doesn’t mean that I automatically morph into an amazing U.S. citizen ally. Being a U.S. citizen who works for immigrant rights doesn’t permanently exempt you from doing the necessary personal work for you to become a better immigration ally.

Because “busyness” working on immigration reform doesn’t replace reflection.

Because pretending to ignore the differences between you and your partner doesn’t replace the quiet acknowledgement of reality.

Because sometimes I’m The Deportee’s Racist and Classist Wife.

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10 thoughts on “The Deportee’s Racist and Classist Wife

  1. Thanks for articulating it, so very true! As someone who just completed my husband’s paperwork I often feel the same frustration, so it is good to be reminded about my privilege in that. Prepare yourselves for the invasive and also impossible to find info about health & vaccinations both at the Juarez medical exam y in the U.S. Thanks!

  2. what a refreshing, honest post. My husband and I are just starting the long immigration process and I have caught myself with the same frustrated attitude. I’m glad to know someone else is a work in progress too!

  3. Rajendra and I are both white and privileged in terms of all the points you have listed on your picture. But I also had these crazy outbreaks of rage. I accused and screamed at my husband in what stupid and terrible country he lives in. No proper health insurance, no money for child allowance, maternity protection etc. How dare they even ask me all these stupid questions, treat me like a criminal, a fool…But in our case it is the other way around, I am the immigrant, immigrating in a country with less social security, support for myself and my future and even though I decided I want to live here, I also acted (maybe not so much racist) but definitely classist.
    You are right, nothing we do (or think we do) replaces reflection.

    Thanks for that post Giselle, it made me reflect.

    Carmen

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