Opinion by Alex G.
I have never been a ‘politics’ person. In fact, I’m too far behind on what’s going on in the world. Perhaps I’m doing a dis-service to society by being politically neutral and uneducated, but I feel that in a world full of politically opinionated people, my political views wouldn’t make a difference.
Although I say to myself that I would stay away from politics, there is such a burning hot topic right now that it makes it impossible for me not to comment. I was never prone to talk about it before, but what’s going on with the immigration policies right now just makes me want to scream out loud. Just seeing immigration comments on social media like “do it legally” or “follow the rules in order to become legal” makes me roll my eyes. Obviously the people commenting have no idea what it takes to become legal in this country, and what immigrants have to go through. It’s easy to make ignorant comments when you’re comfortable where you live, and have never been faced with a situation like deportation. If all these unsupportive people could walk for one day in an immigrant’s shoes they would see for themselves that the struggle is real.
Watching from the sidelines it may seem like it’s no big deal or it’s such a piece of cake to gain the status of a documented immigrant in the United States. However, there is a whole other world out there that most people are not aware of. You would think that the “land of the free” would offer multiple paths to legalization, yet the options are extremely limited. In fact, the most secure option to get through the system is to marry a U.S. citizen.
Once they step on this land with any kind of visa (or not), men and women are looking for ways to stay more permanently. For a big majority of immigrants going back to where they came from is not an option, and they would much rather stay undocumented in the U.S. Some live day by day hoping they won’t get caught while others want to get legalized, and this is when they start looking for husbands and wives because marriage is the only secure path towards becoming a legal resident, and then a citizen. This is where the real struggle begins and what some of these people have to go through is just unbelievable and mind blowing.
First, they have to find a person willing “to help.” Then they train their partners to go through a fake relationship that turns into a fake marriage, and when the process is finished they get divorced and one of them ends up with a good amount of money. This is what “to help” means. Yes, you understood that right. Men and women work really hard to save their money in order to find partners for a short period of time, and they pay them for marriage. They fake a happy relationship that all has to be documented and backed up by paperwork, and do everything it takes to obtain that piece of paper that allows them to be legal.
There is no doubt that the people who have no other options for legal citizenship shop for a spouse, pay for marriage and live true nightmares until the process is over. It goes without saying though, that there are people who actually do find their true soul mates. They build families and together go through the process, as difficult and stressful as it may be, but at least they go through it with full support and openness.
Of course every situation is different. While some people get away with lies and end up legal residents, for others this is the most stressful part of their lives. They live in constant fear, always looking over their shoulders. They feel like there is someone out there watching them all the time. They shut down all online presence and avoid speaking about immigration issues on the phone. They become paranoid and everything scares them. After investing a lot of time, money and energy into become citizens, the thought that they can still be deported gives them chills, but they keep going. Nothing stops them and they will do whatever it takes to get to the finish, and to see their lifelong dream come true. It’s beyond stressful and scary, but they work really hard for this and giving up is not an option.
As terrifying as it sounds, this is not always the end. If caught by the authorities there are major consequences for both parties; one goes to jail while the other one gets deported with no right to return. Because of this, the level of cautiousness is extremely high. Therefore, the prices are high too. On top of this, people run the risk of getting scammed. They can end up with no money and no papers. Now that American citizens have become more and more aware of this path, it’s very tempting for a lot of them to make easy money — because who’s going to report them, an illegal alien? Or even worse, they threaten to send them to immigration.
Nowadays immigration has turned into a profitable business that no one speaks about; not everyone knows it exists, but the ones who do pretend that they have never heard about it. There is a whole market for it out there. Undocumented immigrants look for citizens who can help them, and citizens look for immigrants who need to be helped. Some develop a network of people who need easy money and become brokers by hooking people up and taking a fee. Ultimately this is the black market of immigration; someone can buy and sell people’s destinies and not even care about it.
It’s not for me to say how broken the system is or to go on a rant about what needs to be changed. I am just truly impressed with the courage people show when they realize that their options are so limited (or perhaps they have no idea what they are signing up for?) Regardless, one way or another, people have always been known to find solutions to their problems.
It is amazing to me how inventive human beings can be when it comes to steering out of difficulties. My two cents on all of this is that if people had better options none of this nonsense would exist. If they could freely work with the options they have to become legal citizens, no one would need to go around and trick the system. But, because it is the way it is, people just learn to work with what they have available to them whether it’s legal or not, and then they pray it works.
Alex G. is an exceptional risk taker. Her life is ruled by passion and positivity and she believes that everything she does needs to be fun and fulfilling. She lives and plays in Carbondale, Colo., and is continuously looking for opportunities to improve.