More than three decades ago, my best friend in high school approached me about marrying his aunt. I was 20, and she was a decade older and had four kids and needed to flee from an abusive marriage in the Philippines. She came on a tourist visa, and we went to a sleazy drive-through marriage business and it was done. I occasionally slept at her place so that I wouldn’t commit perjury during the interview, although we didn’t sleep together. I did not receive any payment, but she provided me with health and dental insurance through her employment. It was immigration fraud – we had no intent to build a life together, and got divorced once she had her green card.
In high school, some friends and I went to Mexico. One of my friends, unbeknownst to me, was an illegal alien. He came to the US when he was a baby, but his family drifted about after WWII and his mom somehow never obtained status. I guess that because he was white and seemed completely American, we all thought there would be no problem. Well, we got an object lesson in privilege when the immigration inspector denied him entry. We walked a few miles east and jumped the fence.
I recognize that immigration enforcement is a necessity, but I don’t think kids who grow up here should be locked up and deported.
I work in international development now. My life is good. It probably wouldn’t be had I been busted for immigration fraud. I cross a lot of borders these days, always legally. I sometimes look around in the airport and wonder whether anyone’s traveling on false papers or pretenses. I silently hope, if they are doing so out of fear or desperation, that they make it through.