Every immigration lawyer that I spoke with about my husband Picasso’s immigration case always asked me two things right off the bat:
1. Do you have kids?
2. Do you have any health issues?
We don’t have kids and I didn’t have any health issues for many years. Until I did, in September of 2011.
Why did the lawyers always ask these same two questions within the first five minutes of a phone call?
Because they were most definitely thinking about the 1-212 waiver application, our mandatory first step. If it was approved, then we’d be able to put in a U.S. permanent residency application and wait. Since my husband had a lifetime ban, a lot rode on that waiver.
The 1-212 waiver application is like a classic country song, full of apology, regret and woe – is – me. It has to be. It’s a mountain of papers that you must climb.
My husband Picasso had to formally apologize to the U.S. government for things like entering the U.S. without papers and a previous gun possession charge from when he was 19 years old.
And we both had to show how we were suffering. The technical term is that we had to show extreme hardship, particularly from me, the U.S. citizen of the equation.
In September, of 2011, I was diagnosed with Myeloproliferative Disease, subtype Essential Thrombocytosis, sometimes called Essential Thrombocythemia. The short version is that I’m at a much higher risk for blood clots and strokes. I have a 3% chance of this blowing up into leukemia. 97% that it doesn’t. No cure. No definitive cause for why I got it, why I now have this mutation that I didn’t have before.
My extreme hardship suddenly looked a lot sexier on paper.
Doctor’s letters, downloaded WebMD and Mayo Clinic articles made their way into the waiver application. Pretty much everyone who wrote a letter on my behalf talked about how they were concerned about what would happen if I stroked out and my husband wasn’t here.
I’m not saying that Picasso’s 1-212 waiver application was approved solely because of highlighting my illness. But I often think about what would’ve happened if I didn’t have it. While my husband and I were definitely experiencing extreme hardship, it was hard to prove without my illness in a way that U.S. immigration officials could hear it.
The legislation would allow immigration officials to use discretion when granting waivers for those applying to be in the country with their American spouses, children and other family members.
One of the key elements of this legislation is to update the waiver language from “extreme hardship” to “hardship.”
The omission of one word can change open up a whole world in a waiver application.
This legislation will not help every U.S. citizen with an undocumented or deported spouse. My husband would not have benefited from the proposed legislation, because he would not have met the requirements.
But there are a lot of families in my community that do. So for them, I’m asking to you directly to click here and voice your support for H.R. 3431.
It shouldn’t take the threat of a stroke to prove extreme hardship. The separation of families should be hardship enough.