1986 in Medellin, young Ruben Alvarez makes the decision to leave behind everything he knows in a turmoil stricken Colombia for a better life and future in the USA. Unfortunately, he could not afford to fix his citizenship paperwork due to lack of funds so he decided to enter the United States through the Mexican border. Like millions of other immigrants, his intention was not to enter the country illegally. He merely had a painted vision of the United States being a land of freedom and promise and pursuing the “American Dream.” He quickly learned on the road to this idea of freedom that freedom ultimately came with a cost.
While he was in route to the border, he was detained in Mexico city’s prison because he had no money to pay corrupted authorities. Once he was released, he then proceeded further up to the border towns. He and a few other Colombians were in a group awaiting a man with a van to help them “cross” the border. Unbeknown to them, his plan was to sneak everyone in that group under a blanket over the border. Although this was a complete shock that they would have to stay hidden, they agreed to follow his orders to get to freedom. While travelling in the van, this plan didn’t go so well once they made it to Brownsville, Texas. The Border Patrol caught all of the people in this van and had them detained for a few months.
Ruben Alvarez was beaten by these corrupted officers in Texas. He was given sub-human treatment. For a month, he endured constant discrimination and brutality from the authorities.
He was finally released because his mother was able to get the money to pay for the bond. From Texas, he quickly made his way up to Chicago. In Chicago, he had a few of his family members to help him. Regardless of the support he had, he still had a constant fear that he would be sent back to Medellin.
It was difficult for him as he found himself facing a language barrier making it almost impossible to find work. He also did not have a social security number due to his status as an immigrant. He went through many tribulations throughout the years and he still faces many issues to this very day.
Ruben Alvarez is my father. I am very proud of the man he is and it does not matter to me what his status is in the United States; however, not everyone in this country is too enthusiastic about sharing the country with others who only come here to try to have better futures for themselves. The status of immigrant is typically frowned upon by millions. In today’s society, it is difficult to be labeled as an immigrant because it is implied to be viewed as a sub human. Throughout the years, my father has faced trials and tribulations. He continues to have a love for a country that has shown many instances of hate.
More recently, my father has had to overcome yet another obstacle. My father made yet another attempt to finalize the citizenship process. He had already passed all tests and was on the verge of becoming a legal U.S. Citizen; however, it was noted there were two copies of his Alien number circulating the country and a copy of his passport had been used by another person on various occasions. His fear was unraveling in front of him that there was a possibility of being deported back to Colombia.
Deportation is a fate that awaits many immigrants in the U.S. It is a fear that many must live with on daily basis. Deportation is when the person who entered the country illegally is detained and sent back to their country of origin. In some cases, that person may not be able to enter the country they had been deported from. It was confirmed when my father spoke with the case worker in the immigration office that it was in my father’s best interest to obtain an immigration lawyer. There was a chance that any day my father could be deported.
This news was devastating to my father and our family. Just the thought that at any given moment, he could be snatched away from us like a piece of property. I can never erase the look of fear and devastation on my father’s face. Since then, my father was able to obtain an immigration lawyer. Unless any person has been in my father’s shoes, or feel the humiliation, pain and economic stress he was placed under because he could have been deported, you could never understand the life of an immigrant. You would never be able to understand the life of humans not just illegal immigrants.
Deportation is such a devastating consequence for a person who pursues what they believe is the American dream. People all over the country like my father are hardworking and have families. They have feelings and goals. It is also a costly process to become a legal citizen so not every person has the funds available to make being a citizen a reality.
My voice and thoughts are a powerful tool. I also have a voice for the people who are constantly being treated like they don’t have any rights. This essay is not only dedicated to my dad, but to all people facing these issues. Hopefully, society one day can too view every living person from another country not as an immigrant but as a human being.
- Senator Pushes Bill for better Cooperation between Law Enforcement and Federal Immigration Authorities - October 17, 2020
- Temporary Protected Status - July 29, 2020
- A recent decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals - July 23, 2020