Category: Archive

Undocumented: a family’s life in the shadows

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

I have been living in the United States since 1999 after leaving Ireland when I could not secure a full-time job. I had extensive experience in construction before coming to America and looked into the possibility of obtaining a legal visa to come to work in this field. I learned quickly that there were no viable visa alternatives for someone with my experience. I decided to come to this country anyway, to try my luck and see if I could find temporary employment. There was little or no work available to me at home, but I knew that, given a chance and with hard work, I could do well in this country. Soon after arriving, I met my wife, and our relationship gave me a reason to remain in the United States indefinitely.
My wife is also an Irish citizen. She holds a degree from Ireland, and was able to obtain a temporary work visa in the United States, and later a green card, through sponsorship by an employer. I am also the proud father of two American children.
In 2002, I received a phone call that nobody ever wants to get: my father died and my wife and I traveled back for his funeral and returned to the U.S. a few weeks later. In doing so, I potentially barred myself from obtaining a green card, and, if located by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I face automatic detention and removal.
Over the past number of years I have built a business here in the U.S. and employ a number of people. I have worked hard to build up my business and provide for my family. I now own my own home. It has been wildly misquoted that undocumented people drain the American system. I have been paying both federal and state taxes from the day I started my business over 10 years ago and will continue to do so. If I had a visa I feel I could do more to grow my business, employing more people and contributing more to society here.
My wife and I live every day in fear that I will face deportation. Recently, immigration officers drove by my worksite — I thought that they were coming to take me away. My family could not survive in the United States without me.
I do not want preferential treatment in the U.S. visa system. I do not want to “jump the line” ahead of people who have applied for visas from abroad and wait patiently for the day when they are allowed to come to the United States. I would like to be able to apply for a visa which would allow me to go to work every day without the fear of being detained and sent to prison away from my wife and children. I would like the opportunity to live in peace and without fear in the land that, due to luck and circumstances, has become my home.

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