02/13/2013 11:01:28 AM EST
My Family's Papers
"Exactly how these “mixed-status” families will be included in any type of immigration reform is still up for debate. Nevertheless, they are a byproduct of our broken and byzantine immigration system. Consider my story: My grandparents emigrated legally from the Philippines after my grandpa’s sister, who married a Filipino-American in the military, petitioned for them. The process took 12 years. Once they finally arrived, they petitioned for their children to follow them. It turned out, however, that residents cannot petition for their married children, so while my uncle, who was single, packed his bags, my married mother remained at home. This is where I come in. Grandparents cannot petition for their grandchildren, either, but my family didn’t see a future for me in the Philippines. They made a decision to send me, alone and without papers, to live with my grandparents. They assumed I would find a woman and get my legal residence through marriage. But I came out as gay in high school, which considerably complicated matters. Since gay marriage is not recognized by the federal government, which oversees visas, and since I am not eligible for other relief programs, I am the only T.N.T. — “Tago Ng Tago,” or “hiding and hiding,” the Filipino equivalent of undocumented — in the family. Most immigrants know someone who is undocumented, and that person is most likely a relative. This often-forgotten fact underscores the reality that undocumented immigrants are integrated not only in our communities — in classrooms and churches across America — but also in our nuclear and extended families." - Jose Antonio Vargas, Feb. 12, 2013.