Dear Auntie Chambu:
I am a married man with three children who has been in the United States without valid papers for the past ten years. I have a good job and my children are in school. We are law abiding residents and live a normal life like everybody else. But post 9-11 our situation has become more precarious. What should I do?
From what little you have told me it seems you and your family are well grounded in the American system. You are not alone- there are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. While I am not an attorney and would not presume to give you legal advice on this issue, I will suggest you keep educated and well-informed on emerging immigration legislation that would help your family legitimize their status.
There is a bill weaving its way through Congress now that would provide an opportunity for millions of illegal aliens to rectify their status after taking into consideration factors such as family ties and employment skills. They would be offered legal status but citizenship is not automatic. Instead there is a caveat that they touch base with their nations of origin and begin the green card application process.
While President Bush supports the proposed legislation it is far from being a done deal as opposition against "amnesty", and what is viewed as softness on homeland security, will likely lead to several amendments. Many immigrants across the nation will be keeping an eye on events on Capital Hill and you should too.
Also you should consult a good immigration attorney. One that zealously fights for you and your family. There may just be other options open for you out there. Ask your friends, family and co-workers for a referral to an attorney. There are also several immigrant advocacy groups which offer competent legal counsel at affordable prices. Good luck.
Auntie Chambu, 53, was born and raised in the grasslands of Cameroon. This sheltered nineteen year old, boarding school girl came to a rebellious 60's United States to pursue a college degree and her dreams. She garnered degrees in social work and counseling, got married, and had four kids who constantly put her education and home spun wisdom to the test. After over twenty years of living on the two continents, her advice has a great mixture of traditional African insights with a spirited American independent thinker streak.
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