A Wife’s Tale

When Justice is Unfair

By Norma Moreira

Around the world it is known that The United States is a country of immigrants. I dare to say each family has foreign ancestors if they look back far enough.

It is also known that this marvelous country is the country of opportunity. This is one of the reasons immigrants choose to come to this country. People who emigrate have different reasons for doing so. Some of them are personal, political, religious, economic and/or professional.

Some of these situations allow the immigrants to obtain a green card. That tells us there are many ways to settle into this country legally. Many people think that got married to an American citizen is the easiest way. For this reason fake marriages were popular in the past (even now, but less than before). Currently the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is actively looking for clues which allow them to find these fake marriages. But what happens when the ex-INS makes mistakes which can affect lives, separate marriages, even destroy families?. Who can correct those mistakes?.

My husband and I were married over five and a half years ago and are still very much in love. We are inseparable, and share all aspects of our lives with each other. After all that time I am still waiting for my green card. According to a lawyer my case is on a huge, dusty, “inactive” filing cabinet in some forgotten storeroom in a sub-basement of the JFK building thanks a mistake made by the ex-INS which they don’t want to admit.

This is my case and there are many others.

We fell in love in Ecuador –my country-. We met there while my husband was working as a department head in the same University in which I worked.

Our marriage is real. We have real witnesses and real proofs. Our best witnesses could be the 400 university students who at that time were familiar with us. Our friends, families and even our bosses could testify not only about our real romance but also our real wedding.

As honest people we tried to be well informed and to do everything properly. We did not do anything wrong. Our only fault is loving each other and trying to live here without any trouble. We are law-abiding, loyal, and trustworthy people.

After our marriage we reported to the US Embassy in Quito (capital of Ecuador) where we were told by a US official that we could apply for my residence (green card) either in Ecuador or in Boston, my husband’s city of residence and employment. My husband decided to apply in Boston.

My nightmare began in the Miami airport where I entered accompanied by my husband, my mother-in-law and my step-children who had attended the wedding. After detaining me, interviewing me, interviewing my husband, and inspecting our wedding photos, the ex-INS finally admitted me on my previously obtained B1-B2 visa for 30 days with the condition that we apply for residency within that time.

We followed all the rules, filled all the forms, and completed all the ex-INS requirements but five and a half years have passed and we have not received any answers. We have consulted two lawyers and the following are their opinions:

1) The ex-INS had paralyzed our petition because one of their officials had made the mistake of admitting me in Miami on a tourist visa a week after I got married. After the marriage I had to come in as an American citizen’s wife not as a tourist.

Nobody told us this until years later. It seems our petition has been deep-sixed to avoid acknowledging this error.

2) These types of cases are called golden oldies and are kept in some forgotten storeroom.

Our lives together have been profoundly affected. I feel in limbo and insecure. I consider myself a scrupulously honest person with a well deserved reputation as such in my personal and professional life here and in my country. Only our deep love and faith in each other have allowed our marriage to survive under these adverse conditions. I can only imagine how the thousands of couples feel who have been physically separated by this broken system.

Finally I have the following questions:

1. Is anybody at the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services able to give me a proper answer?
2. Why is it so hard for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services admit their mistake?
3. Do the directors of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services know about the golden oldies cases?
4. Who decided to send my case to the golden oldies?
5. How many cases like mine or similar to it does Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services keep unsolved?
6. Are there administrative or judicial penalties for the officials who make mistakes or intentionally misadvise, misinform, unnecessarily delay or sidetrack the legitimate petitions of immigrants? If not. Why do they punish the alien applicants for the errors of Americans?
7. Did the INS change only its name, or does the new agency continue with the same philosophy and bureaucracy?
8. Should I wait to receive my legal green card posthumously, like the 9/11 terrorists who received their fraudulent student visas 6 months after the terrorist act that they committed?.
9. Will anybody help me to recover psychologically and return my lost faith in the American Justice System?

I am not a terrorist or a criminal. I am a simple wife who loves her husband. I did not come here following the American dream, I came here following my dream of love. I came to this country for love and wanting to be here with my husband forever with my legal status intact.

We are certainly not alone in having our lives disrupted and our love frustrated by the BCIS. There are thousands of honest, legal immigrants who have suffered even worse indignities and disgraces at this unchallengeable bureaucratic monster. Who is investigating the discrimination, oversights, misrepresentations and slipshod practices of the BCIS? When will the victims of this systematic discrimination unite to demand fair and open treatment from the descendents of our predecessors? Who gave the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services the right to make justice unfair?