I Can Bring Home The Immigration Bacon

In our specific situation, I’m responsible for all aspects of the coordination of my husband’s case. I’m of course working in partnership with our great lawyer. But at the end of the day, I’m the one making the checklists, the reservations, organizing our docs into folders, figuring out fees, etc…

Honestly? My husband is really only responsible for making sure that he’s on the other side of a bullet-proof glass window at the indicated time for his permanent residency appointment next week.

In an ironic twist, the scene is similar to the stereotypical wedding plans of a heterosexual couple, where the guy is solely responsible for renting a tux and showing up on the wedding day.

While there most definitely are U.S. citizen men with deported or undocumented wives, I can confidently say that the majority of people that I interact with who are in a similar situation and are in a heterosexual relationship are U.S. citizen women whose husbands or boyfriends are deported or are undocumented in the U.S.

In the immigration groups that I’m involved with, the majority of people who ask questions or post comments are U.S. citizen women regarding their husband or boyfriend.

Many of us who’ve been at this a while can rattle off the details of our partner’s case without a single twinge or twitch in our faces. We know USCIS application numbers like our zip codes, i.e., I-601, I-212, I-864.

Some of us women have been at this so long that we can talk about the inner workings of each other’s husband’s cases just as well if not better than we can talk about our own situations.

I’m 43. The generation of women in the U.S. that I belong to sang along to the commercial posted above. Many of us subconsciously took it as truth. At least I did.

“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never, never let you forget you’re a man.”

What I’m trying to say here is that after my husband’s failed permanent residency appointment in 2006, I took over my husband’s case. In 2011, once the ten years had passed, and Picasso was eligible to apply for a waiver, I held onto the steering wheel of my husband’s case with a death grip.

What I’m grappling with today is that I’m pretty sure that I can’t be the only wife who is an Immigration Case Coordinator for their husband.

But today I’m also thinking about how gender roles, institutionalized and systemic racism, class, privilege, access, formal education, language levels, guilt, citizenship, nationality, socialization and expectations all factored into my death grip on the steering wheel of my husband’s case.

And I’m also reflecting on trust.

Because if there was any way that I could stand in my husband’s place on the other side of the bullet-proof glass window next week at his appointment, I would.

Sure, I can bring home the immigration bacon. But it is high time for me to let my husband fry it up in the pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “I Can Bring Home The Immigration Bacon

  1. This rings so true for me too. For a number of years I didn’t even ask my husband for any input about the rocess. Just “This is what we’re doing.” No question of what he thought or what he wanted. Obviously the bigger picture goal of getting back to the US was mutually understood and agreed upon but beyond that I was definitely driving the bus. I can’t say yet with certainty how this translates over into “normal life” but I can say that even as we’ve made our first steps into the world of legal permanent resident status, it is hard for me to hand over the reigns – to send him off on his own to his appointment at the consulate, for him to return to the US solo rather than me going to Mexico to pick him up and escort him back to the US, etc. I think part of this is because we know firsthand just how bad things can go when things go bad and we want to do everything in our power to prevent things from going terribly awry. Who wouldn’t be completely consumed with every last detail and trying to control every feasible variable in the equation when your life has been so dramatically derailed by past immigration disasters? Add to that a sense of extreme overprotectiveness – for example, wanting to protect him from the people who would look at his skin color, or hear his accent, and use that info to make a bureaucratic judgment, as if my blond-haired, blue-eyed presence and Midwestern accent will add a sense of entitlement and legitimacy to the situation. It was hard to let him go to the DMV to get his license without me (even that I did everything I could to orchestrate from afar when he ran into problems there). The interesting thing, and the thing that can help a person grow and a relationship grow, is stepping back to see that sometimes he is better suited to handle the situation independently – for example when the POE officer asked my husband about his immigration history and then said incredulously, “And they let you come back?!?” My husband calmly answered “Yup,” whereas I, with my sense of entitlement, would have probably given that officer an indignant earful that might have landed us in more problems….

    1. Laura, thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing here. It was really hard for me for so many reasons to write this post today. It means a lot to me to see the vulnerability and openness in your comment here. It makes me feel less alone. And I’m glad to be in such good company 🙂 Big Hug, Giselle

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