My name is Mayra Villalobos, though in Mexico I am still considered Mayra Plata-Rosales. The whole marriage name thing here is different. I am 23 years of age and am currently in Mexico, pregnant with my husband’s and my first child, currently separated from my husband and family due to our broken immigration system in the USA.
At the age of 2, I was taken to the US, illegally by my parents in hope for a better future along with my 3 older sisters. Two of my older sisters and younger sister are US citizens. I grew up in Indianapolis, IN, attended K-12 and graduated with academic honors. Through out my years of studies I remained at a B point average. In high school I was involved in track, cross-country, yearbook staff, leadership club and many other activities. I graduated 19th out of 201 classmates with Academic Honors. In my senior year I was awarded with the U of I Bridge Scholarship, 21st Century Scholarship, First Generation IUPUI scholarship and a few others.
In the end I was unable to claim any funds losing my chance at a full paid tuition. This didn’t stop me from hopes of pursuing my career and I enrolled at IUPUI Indianapolis. Marriage: I met my husband in the year 2008 through my best friend from high school. We began dating in Nov. of 2009 and were married July 10, 2010. From the first day I met him I instantly knew that he was the one. He was so easy going and everything just felt right with him.
Well after we met he would drive 4 hours from Waukegan to Indianapolis every Saturday, leave Monday mornings at 5 am and drive 4 more hours back to Waukegan to make it in time for class. We would take turns on visiting one another until we finally married. When we married, my job at that moment had a role in us deciding that we would stay in Indianapolis. Since at the time he was would work in Alaska for 8 weeks and would be off for 2 weeks we decided that it worked out best since I would have my sisters around to keep me company. At the time my mother in law had an apartment least in Waukegan, which kept her from being able to move in with us in Indianapolis. We would still visit my mother in law every weekend and even when my husband was in Alaska I would be sure to keep up with the visits.
After I began working at Lids, I convinced my husband to come back home to Indy and find an ok paying job. I let him know that with my new salary and his combined we’d be making what he alone makes in Alaska and that was more than enough to live off of as well as support my mother in law. I was able to convince him and my husband was back at home. We were finally able to enjoy the married life we dreamed of. We woke up to each other, ate dinner together, went out for breakfast on weekends and attended Church together along with many other different things. It was exciting to know my husband and I could enjoy one another together at home. I knew that us taking his pay cut was worth the time we were able to enjoy one another. My husband has been my reason to want more out of life and not settle for less. He has been there with me in my highest and lowest moments. He encouraged me to go back to school even though it had been so long and still does to this date.
Marrying my husband has been the best decision I have ever made in my life, he is my best friend, lover, and so much more. Finally after 1 year of trying to conceive we are finally pregnant with our first child. This came to us unexpected as we had stopped trying and it happened now that I am in Mexico waiting to be approved so that I could return home. Jobs: I attended a summer course on “06” and passed but then failed at my first semester of college. At that time I was dealing with my parents divorce, father’s deportation, living on my own and trying to attend school full time. I later decided to take a break from school and focus on trying to find a “good job” since my faith in pursuing a career had somewhat diminished. I was working at a German restaurant bussing tables, hostess and event managing but I came to realize that is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I then applied for a leasing job and even with no experience I got the job! I was so excited to have an “office” job despite my status. I then quit my job at the restaurant and focused on my new job. I did leasing for approximately 3 years. I then received a job offer at a screen- printing company, M360 around the year 2008 just as order entry earning $8 per hour. I had decided to take the job since I was ready for something new. With-in half a year in that company I moved up as was assigned as project manager for one of our top customers, BD&A who’s head quarter is located on Seattle.
By the time I left M360 I was earning as salary of 32K. I left M360 because I received an opportunity at Lids Corp. as a sales support supervisor. This had been my biggest accomplishment yet! I went into Lids with a starting salary offer of 40K per year plus benefits. Can you imagine how proud my husband and I were to know that my hard work was starting to pay off? I knew that I couldn’t have pulled this off without the encouragement and support of my husband.
I worked there from March 2011 – June 2011…you may be asking why such a short amount of time. Well in the year 2011 my husband and I hired an attorney to represent and process my immigration case. Through out this year a few last minute meetings came up and my boss at Lids questioned it. I did advise him that they were last minute attorney meetings as I have always been an honest person. He seemed worried and I let him know that I was not in any kind of trouble and that I could explain when he was back in town from meetings. When he got back in town we went into his office and I let him know that I was in the process of fixing my legal status. I explained to him that I was undocumented and was brought to the US at the age of 2…I pretty much told him my story. My boss let me know that he was going to have to speak to HR about it and I knew at that point that I had lost my dream job and biggest accomplishment due to my honesty.
I was devastated at that point but knew that in the end I could earn my job back after my immigration process had been completed and I was granted residency. My boss then advised me that he had conversated to HR about my case and I had two options. 1) I could be fired or 2) I could give my notice and then be eligible for rehire after my case had been completed. I went with number 2 as my hopes of a fast approval we high. I gave my notice and that was the end of Lids.
My husband, who is a US citizen, began my immigration process in the beginning of the year 2011. We hired an attorney since at the moment we were both so busy with work. After my I lost my job at Lids my husband and I suffered financially and the loss also affected me emotionally. I couldn’t understand why I had to go though this and would always ask, “Why couldn’t I just be born here in the US?” At that time we literally living pay check to paycheck with his salary of $12.00 per hour. This lasted from June – November as in November I was given my first Visa appointment in Ciudad Juarez. At that same time my husband was able to get his job back in Alaska allowing us to move forward with this immigration process.
Letting my husband go to Alaska was way harder than I had remembered. We had been used to seeing one another on a daily basis and it broke my heart to say goodbye but I knew that we had to get through this. It was so adorable that he bought me a Yorkie who we named Meeko to keep me company when he could not be with me. I remember preparing myself for my new trip to Juarez. It felt so unreal. I spent the last 2 weeks of my time in the USA with my sisters since I knew it would be a while before I saw them again. I remember my best friend driving me to the airport and me telling her I felt like I was going to be sick. I wanted her to stop the car, turn it around and take me home but I knew that my husband and I had gone through too much and come to far to turn around. I arrived to Mexico and knew there was no way back unless I was approved. The thought gave me chills and I just prayed that God kept me safe from all the bad things I’ve heard of Mexico.
My husband was unable to attend the visa appointment with me in Juarez but I knew this could happen with him working in Alaska again. Luckily my dad was now in Mexico and he met me in Juarez and kept me company thought this trip. I attended my appointment Nov. 8, 2011 and as we expected I was able to file my waiver. My waiver appointment was then scheduled for Jan. 10, 2012. My dad and I then took a bus from Juarez to Ciudad Hidalgo, the city were I was born. I remember arriving to the town…I thought to myself, “ I have to stay here?” The first few days were awkward for me. I hadn’t seen my dad for 5 years and now I am back at his house and met my step- mom for the first time. I never went out unless I went to the store with my dad.
In mid Dec 2011 my husband came to Mexico to visit from Alaska. He stayed with me until Feb. 6, 2012. So he was able to attend the waiver appointment with me in Juarez. On Jan 10, 2012 I attended my I-601 waiver appointment in Juarez and turned in my waiver packet. Now, a waiver packet must prove “extreme hardships to why my husband the US citizen needs me in Mexico. Our case included the following:
Here I am, and illegal immigrant that was taken to the US at the age of 2, never went back to Mexico, grew up and studied in the US, never had any trouble with the law, and despite what my status was I grew in to a responsible, hardworking and caring American. I always thought that my hard efforts would help me in the future. How can my husband and I be kept apart, just because we pay our bills in time, are both healthy and stay out of trouble?
I thought they wanted more people like me in the US. Does my husband have to be dying, in poor health, living off the government and not support my mother in law just to get me home? I don’t know. All I know is that we now have to send more evidence so that my unborn baby and I can go back home to my husband and our family. All I can think of that I can still send is just updated medical exams, doctor letters, and proof of our still unpaid debt. Which is what I initially sent. How can they keep families apart like this? How is it that due to a broken immigration system my husband and I can’t enjoy our first pregnancy together?
All I can do is pray to God that my baby and I are approved this next time around so that we can make it home safely in time for my husband to be present at our baby’s birth. Being in Mexico: I’ve been in Mexico for the first time after 22 years since Nov 3, 2011. It has been nice to see my father once again. It has been more difficult than fun. I am not used to the culture here, I feel self conscious of my Spanish, the food is not the same, and more than anything I feel lost not being home with my husband. It feels as if the world is going on with life but my life. My life feels as it has been put on hold. I see everyone here going on about their business, I call home and my sister’s schedules and lives remained the same, but my husband’s and my life has been put on hold. We aren’t waking up next to each other, I’m not doing his laundry or cooking his dinner, we aren’t eating dinner together or going out on dates, we aren’t visiting my mother in law together.
I am here in Mexico and he is back home taking care of my mother in law and our bills. My husband wasn’t present at my first ultrasound to hear our first baby’s heart beat and we aren’t home to where we can take a trip to the grocery store for my random cravings. Heck, I can’t even do that here in Mexico because it’s too dangerous to go out after it’s dark. I’ve had to get used to the warming up the hot water before showers, and washing laundry every 3 days because water isn’t always running and I’m so tired of eating Mexican food every day. What I haven’t gotten used to is that I’m not home, next to my husband where I should be. I’m not there to help him pay bills or take care of his mom. I’m stuck in Mexico at the mercy of this immigration process and officers that will review my additional evidence.
I know it’s part of the process and there is no way around it. It’s just luck at this point… I just think there should be a way out of this for those of us that have tried to do the right thing, kept out of trouble, hard working, contribute to the community and pay taxes because every year I filed my taxes. This has been even more overwhelming now that I’m pregnant and unable to share this beautiful blessing with my husband. Mexico is where I was born but my home is back in Indianapolis next to my husband. I just hope that we can go home sooner than later. I can’t stand the though of this for another 8 months….