As the airbus 300 made its final approach along San Francisco international airport, I saw the Golden Gate Bridge sitting on its splendor lit by the rising sun. I then closed my eyes and said to myself “I am finally here.” Thus, my journey in search of a better life began. A few minutes later I was off the plane and was already making my way to the customs and immigration check point. I handed my papers to the immigrations agent, he took a look at my passport and documents and without asking any questions handed them back to me, smiled and said, “Welcome to the United States.”
Two months after arriving in the United States, I found myself working long hours and struggling with homesickness. I also discovered the racial tensions and discriminations that were directed at every foreign Information Technology worker. My discovery was also augmented by the comments made by one of my white American born co-worker named Al. He said, “We are being invaded here, they are taking away our jobs”- referring to the arrivals of more and more foreign IT workers. Not only that, my company was also discriminating us and we were not properly compensated as the signed contract indicated.
Before a foreign national could work for a United States company and could come to work in the United States, a contract is required by the Department of Labor that would state how much this particular person would be paid, and that the salary must not be lower or greater than the current existing wage on his field of specialty. Then, the company must submit that same contract to the Department of Justice before a visa could be issued.
In my case and for many other foreign workers, our contract which was approved by both departments was breached. We were not even paid half of what the signed contract stated. We worked long hours without compensation. And by the end of the year our W2s’ proved it. And every time we asked or complained, the company would then ask us how much our salary was in the Philippines, and then they would ask us to compare it to what we are making here. And if that answer would not satisfy us, they then would threaten to cancel our visa. Therefore, all I can do is bite my tongue, put up and look at the bright side- I am are here and someday I will get my greencard and I then will be able to live the American dream.
I came to this country by myself. I left my wife and my son behind. But during the first couple of months that I was here, I filed a petition so my family can join me here
in the United States. It took me four years to see and to be together with my family once again. It took the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services four years to approve the petition. I filed for our greencard at the same time I filed for their petition to come here, but until today I still do not know where our greencard application stands. My son’s visa just recently expired. But six months prior to the expiration of his visa a petition was already filed for an extension of his stay. It has been eight months now, my son’s visa had expired and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services with ample time to render a decision wasn’t able to do so. Technically, my son’s staying here can be called illegal. Now, let me ask you this, “Is it my fault that my son became illegal?”
Lately, a hot new bill is being debated in the senate, a bill about immigration and about illegal immigrants living in the United States. The bill proposes to make 12 million illegal immigrants criminals and deporting many of them. Imagine watching the news in the television and what you see is the appalling site of police officers pulling crying children away from their families. Sure you can say, “That’s the price you pay of the life you chose.” And I can say, “I and my family came here legally, why can’t these people do the same?” But to me it is not as simple as black or white. What if the policy is partly to blame? What if the ineptitude and incompetence of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services drove this people to just cross the border rather than immigrating here legally. In my case I waited four years for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to render a decision on my family’s petition. Four years is long time, I missed a lot within those four years. I missed my sons’ first step, I missed his first bike ride, and I missed his first birthday. A lengthy and expensive process I am not willing to undergo again. I can not fault these people coming here illegally….
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