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The Human Face Of Immigration Reform

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Published on Jun 14, 2013

I want to put a human face on these facts and statistics, so I am going to share two stories of individuals who came in contact with our office. These two are representative of literally millions of people. We hear the numbers, but when we listen to the stories and look at the faces of people involved, we know we have to act. The first is about Yves Gerald Gomes, 20 years of age, who was originally from India. I quote him: My own story started in 1994, when I came to this country in the arms of my parents. I was only a year and a half. My parents came from India and Bangladesh, hoping to provide me with opportunities, something they didn't have growing up in poverty in their homes. My earliest memories in life are growing up in MD in the basement of my great aunt and great uncle's house and learning English from their children (my older cousins) by watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Full House. Soon after, in 1995, my brother was born. My parents had an ongoing asylum case, which was denied in 2006. But over that 12 year span, my father worked hard as a hotel server in order to help my mother pay for her college education and for us to live comfortably; growing up I felt as though I was just like any of my middle-class, American peers from school. But in 2006, we became ``undocumented.'' Our work permits could no longer be renewed, so my father was forced to quit his job at the hotel, and my mother had to resign her tenure as a college professor, and surrender her PhD studies in computer sciences. In 2008, our home was raided by ICE, a few days after my dad was pulled over one night for driving with a busted taillight in Baltimore. Ultimately both of my parents were deported in 2009. I faced my own deportation in 2010, but was able to remain in the US because of the [hard] work of my lawyer ..... the support of my friends, church community, [and] the media. ..... It will be 5 years since my brother and I have last seen our parents. Currently my brother and I live with the same great aunt, great uncle and cousin with whom we resided when my family first came to US. It was disheartening when my parents missed my own high school graduation, and it will again be disheartening when they will miss my younger brother's high school graduation. ..... Moreover, the pain of separation resonates to our extended family too. My mother treated my great-aunt and great-uncle, naturalized US citizens for 40+ years, like her own parents, and she cannot be here to take care of them in their old age. Their son, my cousin (a US citizen) has a degenerative muscle disease which prevents him from traveling. If immigration reform does not happen, it's possible he will never get to see my father, whom he treats like his older brother, ever again. I will graduate from the University of Maryland College Park in 3 semesters with my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, and I really hope that my parents will be there to see me walk across the stage. For myself and millions of others, immigration reform means a pathway to pursue our dreams and give back to American society, our home; personally, I want to enter into the field of medical research or pharmacy. Moreover, for myself and so many others, immigration reform means the hope of being reunited with family members, and also it means no longer having to wake up every morning with the constant fear of deportation. I have lived in the United States since I was a year old. This is the only country I have ever known as my home. Despite all the challenges my family has faced, I still love the United States, and have always considered myself to be American at heart. I hope that after this year, I can be an American on paper too.

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