Nicole Salgado

Black Panther is Undocumented

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Nicole Salgado

Oakland, CA

Querétaro, Mexico Oct. 11, 2011 My name is Nicole Salgado, and I’m an ecologist, educator, and activist originally from upstate New York. I met my husband in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2001, after which my life was changed forever. Because of his immigration record, my husband had what is considered the permanent bar.

We wanted to make things right, but our options were limited. Our lives could have been turned upside down by an unexpected deportation, which ruled out him returning to Mexico to visit his family for a painful five years. After visiting three lawyers and having our hopes repeatedly dashed, we finally accepted that our best chance to get my husband legal paperwork was to leave the U.S. and apply for a waiver in 10 years. So after dating for three years and two years of marriage, my husband and I moved to his home state of Querétaro, Mexico. I was 28. It was a tortured decision for us because we had good jobs and a fulfilling life in the Bay Area.

Currently, we are halfway through our waiting period. It is now my difficult turn to live far from my family and friends. Our income is well below the poverty level in the U.S., but we do not have the benefit of welfare. As a result, I have stress-related disorders. Despite all this, we did not want to put our lives on hold indefinitely, and we finally started a family last year. Our daughter’s arrival was a blessing for us. The future is uncertain for our family because although my daughter and I have dual citizenship (hers was by birth and mine was obtained this year by virtue of our marriage), there is no guarantee we will ever be able to achieve our dreams of taking our destiny into our own hands, returning to the U.S. as a family, obtaining professional success, or seeing my husband receive an official welcome from American society.

After several years of relative isolation from the online and social activist community, I have finally decided to make our story public, and am coauthoring the book Amor and Exile with journalist Nathaniel Hoffman (amorandexile.com). As a result, I have met, both in person and virtually, many brave people who consider love and integrity to be more important than their own personal comfort level. Their stories are as much of an inspiration to me as they ought to be to everyone.

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