Editor’s Note: Eloisa Haynes is married to Nick Haynes, who shared their story from his perspective in an earlier G92 blog.
In light of the immigration debate, I feel compelled to share my story with you. My name is Eloisa, and you might have seen me at the gym, or at the local Starbucks with friends. Maybe your children and I went to school together, or maybe you and I worship together at Antioch Community Church. I am an ordinary American at heart, but not in paper.
See, my parents brought me to the U.S. without papers when I was a child. When I came here, I had no idea what it meant to be undocumented, nor did I know that my parents’ choice would forever change my life. I grew up attending Waco public schools and graduated a few years ago from Midway High School. Along the way, I had remarkable teachers who invested in me, prayed for me and wholeheartedly loved me. When high school graduation came, I found myself full of dreams. I wanted to go to college with all my heart, but I did not have a green card, and my parents had no money to pay for my education. However, I was determined to go to college, so I began working in order to pay for tuition and to support myself. Today I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Ten years ago this spring, I had another life changing experience. I met Jesus. God was so faithful in putting me in a wonderful Christian community. But even though they genuinely cared about me, I could not bring myself to tell them I had no papers. The same people that loved me and accepted me would also often say very ugly things about “illegals.” The life of an undocumented believer is one of a heavy heart. I passionately hated having to lie and living a double life. Fear and shame plagued me, and I lived an isolated life because of it. However, co-workers and friends found me perfectly normal. If someone suspected me, they certainly never did so openly. In 2006 I met Nick, a tall, handsome-as-heck, kind, Godly man. We fell in love and got married a few months later – ever since we have been working towards adjusting my status. In 2008 I became a legal permanent resident and as soon as I became eligible to apply for citizenship, I mailed in my application. Unfortunately my application was denied. In fact, I was told that that under current law I should not have even been granted legal permanent status. USCIS could revoke my green card at any moment and put me in deportation proceedings, which would mean de facto deportation for Nick.
The only thing that could make a difference for our family is comprehensive immigration reform. Nick and I are not alone. There are millions of mixed-status families like ours. You may know one, but they might not have the courage to tell you their situation. Immigrants are not some people group far away from here picking tomatoes in a field. We are part of the American fabric. We are your co-workers, your neighbors, and your family in Christ. We contribute to and love our communities. On behalf of 11 million immigrants I ask you: Will you give us a chance to come out of the shadows and officially be one of you?
Eloisa Haynes is a guest contributor on G92.org.
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