Thursday, April 15, 2010

Esther's Story: Luck and Frustration

[Out4Immigration has members all over the world. We encourage you to tell your story about the challenges of being in a same-sex binational relationship and how you are coping with the broken US immigration system that refuses to recognize our relationships. Today we have a guest blog post from Esther. It will make you hopeful. It will make you angry. It's meant to!]

Guest post by Esther

My name is Esther and I’ve been with my partner Kati for 5 years. I am from Paraguay, South America and Kati is American. We’re a same-sex binational couple and were living in Argentina together for several years because the US did not recognize our relationship for immigration purposes.

Until the law changes, we felt we only had one way to get back to America - the green card diversity lottery. I completed the application in late 2008 and then waited. We figured I had as much chance of winning this lottery as any other – but you have to try.

On the first of July, 2009 I checked the diversity visa lottery webpage at midnight, and that's how I found out that I had been selected (I never received any notification by mail). I still remember the moment we saw that webpage - Kati started crying and laughing at the same time. It was such an important, long-standing, seemingly impossible dream of hers to be able to go back to her country with me!

Later, in August, I was allowed to write to the Kentucky Consular Center and request the information that I never got in the mail. That's when the whole process started, of paperwork, emails, doctor's appointments, requesting records, and on and on and on. It finally ended with my interview at the US consulate in Buenos Aires on February 18th of this year (2010) when my application was approved. We left the country just a few weeks later and arrived in the US one month ago.

Kati is home and I am with her. We're happy here! We have an adorable apartment, jobs and some new friends. But, when I think about the way I got here it still makes me sad.

I'm in the US because I won a LOTTERY - a game of chance.

During the whole visa process, I could never mention that I have an American partner or that we have a relationship of 5 years. I never mentioned her name. In all the papers that I filled out I had to write that I was coming to the US alone and that I have no family here. I realize that legally, that is the case, but it's not true for me, in my heart.

I feel so much frustration because this country doesn't recognize my marital status, and I feel so much anger because one of the very few ways to get in is through a lottery, not because of the people here who I consider family members.

I’m here, but I'm not satisfied yet with the way things are. It is unjust. And that is why Kati and I will continue to stand with Out4Immigration to fight! Until the law is changed, I urge anyone who can to take part in the diversity lottery every year. You cannot let this chance pass you by. But just as important, you must do all you can to get the US to recognize same-sex binational relationships. Write letters, make phone calls, visit your representatives, ask local officials to get resolutions in support of UAFA passed and tell your story. The more people who know about this, the more likely we are to get more support.

[Thank you, Esther and Kati! Do you have a story to share? Please email kathy@out4immigration - because these stories will be featured as guest blog posts, they need to be 650 words or less. We know that's not a lot of space, but we can work with you to edit them to still be effective. We have no more powerful tool to raise awareness than our stories. Please think about sharing yours.]

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