Immigrant Voices

Keeping Families Together

Graciela and her two young daughters, Julianna, 12 and Bethenny, 6, waited anxiously at San Jose Airport in August 2017. Efrain, Graciela’s husband and the daughters’ father, had left the country a week earlier to complete his interview at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to become a U.S. permanent resident.

 

Graciela and Efrain had first come to IIBA for a legal consultation in March of 2016. IIBA Program Director and Staff Attorney, Virginia Abbott, helped Graciela, a U.S. citizen, petition for Efrain’s residency through consular processing, which would require an interview in the country in which he held citizenship.

 

Shortly before Efrain left for his interview in August, the couple found out Graciela was pregnant with their baby boy. Efrain left for Ciudad Juarez, knowing that permanent residency could open up new opportunities for his family.

 

The separation was fraught with anxiety. The results of the interview carried such high stakes—either Efrain’s ticket to return to his family, or the possibility he may be barred from re-entry into the U.S.

 

A week later, at the airport in San Jose, Julianna spotted Efrain first. “There’s Daddy!” she yelled. They ran to Efrain, hugging him and crying joyfully. He was back home in California, a permanent resident.

 

After their son Allan was born, the family moved from a one-bedroom apartment to a house in Redwood City, with more space for their family. Efrain’s residency also enabled them to obtain better health insurance. Most importantly, they no longer live with the fear that Efrain could be taken away.

 

You can help support immigrant families like Graciela and Efrain’s family by making a donation to IIBA today.

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