I have heard about the DREAMers who attempted to return home to the United States today after deportation, including my constituent Lulu Martinez from Chicago. I hope the Obama administration will do the right thing and let them back in. To make us whole in immigration reform, I believe that people deported without a criminal record should be able to apply to return in the US. -LVG
Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez, who represents the 4th District of Illinois, posted this statement on his Facebook page this past Monday regarding the #bringthemhome action, which I support 100%.
What caught my eye was his last sentence: “I believe that people deported without a criminal record (emphasis mine) should be able to apply to return in the US.”
When my husband Picasso was deported in 2001, he was deported from Chicago, Illinois. That was his second deportation. We moved to Chicago in 2000, to what was a new city for me, but where Picasso had a lot of family and memories.
His first deportation? In 1993. Ohio Highway Patrol officers pulled a 19-year old Mexican kid off a Greyhound bus because, as the police report said, “He looked nervous.”
Picasso didn’t have the right papers. Ohio Highway Patrol officers patted him down and also discovered that he was carrying a concealed weapon. Didn’t pull it on anyone. Was just carrying it.
There’s a book-length story around that gun, a Harrington & Richardson .32 millimeter, trust me.
But some stories are simply held in our eyes and not on the page.
What I will say is that my husband absolutely admits 100% that what he did was wrong. He always has. He always will.
He made that very clear in his I-212 waiver application and again when he was in front of that bullet-proof glass window at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez for his U.S. permanent residency appointment this past June.
But this is what I’m thinking about this morning:
When Picasso was deported in 2001, and slapped with a 20-year ban that in actuality was a lifetime ban, it didn’t even cross my mind to reach out to my Congressperson.
Who represented me at that time, based on where we lived?
None other than The Honorable Luis V. Gutiérrez, representing the 4th District of Illinois since 1993.
I know that so many of the people in my community, those of us who have/had a deported spouse or partner, so many of us carry a secret shame about what our spouse/partner did.
Our loved one’s stories don’t fit anything close to the, “exceptional immigrant” mold. And for the record, the #bringthemhome campaign has nothing to do with the “exceptional immigrant” narrative.
We have a great tale to tell about our spouse’s/partner’s unjust deportation.
Right up until we get to the part where we have to explain some things.
Then things go from “exceptional” to “deceptional.” I’ve heard that switch when talking with reporters. When talking with new friends. Students in classes. Family and faith leaders.
In my one-woman show, “The Deportee’s Wife,” I talk about my husband carrying a concealed weapon on page seven of a 33-page script.
I lose audience members many times exactly from page seven, never to return.
The irony is, our spouses and partners, with their criminal histories and bad decisions, with their shaky pasts and unsure legal futures, our imperfect spouses and partners are often the key person that helps us to heal in a big way about what’s broken in our own lives.
At least I know that’s the case in my situation. And I’m extremely grateful to my husband for the healing energies that he’s provided for me over the years, allowing me to journey towards being a more whole and integrated human being.
So, Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez and the others who push the “exceptional immigrant” model?
I invite you to take a walk with my husband one day and listen to his life story.
He’s going to be 40 this October.
And I challenge you to rethink your views about criminal records and deported immigrants.