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VIEWS AND VOICES
An inhumane system for immigrant families

RECENTLY, I was in Ciudad Juarez for my husband, a Mexican citizen, to get his visa.

The process of applying for a visa is horrible in many ways, but the experience in Juarez was especially dreadful and exposed many of the real problems (not the "immigration problem" politicians are so concerned about) of the way the "legal road" works.

For many, just getting to Juarez is costly, and applicants must stay several days in order to get a medical checkup (which is fairly humiliating), and then to go for the so-called appointment.

The problem is that almost everyone is given the same appointment time, and it really comes down to first-come-first-served on the appointment date. Thus, some line up as early as 2 a.m. By the time we got to the consulate on the day of our appointment, at 4:30 a.m., there were already over 100 people lined up. They don't even start letting people inside until 6:30 a.m.!

The applicants must wait, standing, in this line until they're admitted. Their companions are sent to the sidewalk across the street to wait in the very, very hot Juarez sun, with no way of communicating with loved ones in the consulate, as cell phones aren't permitted inside.

As I waited, I spoke with many of the other people waiting outside, mostly women waiting for their husbands. Almost all of the women had children waiting in the U.S. One woman had come with her husband, who hadn't been to Mexico in 10 years. The couple had been together several years, and had a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, as well as another baby on the way.

Her husband only came for his visa because he would never be able to make above minimum wage without his papers. But they risked everything: If rejected, her husband would be stuck in Mexico, with no choice but to cross the border "illegally" in order to reunite with his family.

The woman told me she wouldn't be able to continue supporting her two children and her mortgage alone, and her husband would never be able to make enough money to help out from Mexico.

After waiting 10 hours, her husband was rejected. They are actually worse off today (and probably have a few thousand dollars less) for trying to get this husband/father his papers. And she was not the only woman whose husband was refused a visa! Everyone waiting acknowledged that if their case was rejected, their spouse would have to risk crossing the border.

During my 11-hour wait, I was struck by the inhumanity of the immigration system today. No one wants to be undocumented in the U.S., but thousands of people are forced to do it because the process of gaining legal entry can take a decade, costs thousands of dollars, and there isn't ever a guarantee.

That's why everyone in this country should fight for amnesty and open borders--because it will make society more just, and because it will literally save families and lives. We have to fight for a world without inhumane borders!
Anonymous, from the Internet

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