Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Life in a mixed-status family: Readers' stories

Photo by nunodantas/Flickr (Creative Commons)

In a series of posts last week, people living in families of mixed immigration status shared their personal experiences. One young woman wrote about being the child of undocumented parents and a family life fraught with "frustration, uncertainty, secrecy, lies.”

A man who has legal status - but whose siblings don't - wrote about communicating with them via text message with warnings about highway checkpoints. And the partner of an undocumented woman wrote about how frustrating it is not to be able to take her to company events or add her name to a loan application or insurance policy, "as if she doesn't exist."

With more demand for family reunification than there are immigrant visas, mixed-status families are common - even the First Family has undocumented relatives. U.S. citizens often live under the same roof with undocumented parents, siblings, spouses or other family members.

Multi-American readers willing to share their stories were asked to do so, and some have. Jennifer Chenoweth-Ruiz posted this comment about her family's experience (unedited):

MY real kids father was deported last year and know they don't even know him. they were only 6 months and 1 1/2 when he was taken away from them.  It's very sad waking up every morning knowing that it could be the last day you see that person.

The man i am with now is undocumented he is a good friend of my and my kids know him as their father. I wake up every morning scared for my life for him. Now that my kids are almost 2 and 3 they know who their dad is and it would break my heart for him to get deported and for my kids to ask me everyday "where's daddy?"

People who are not in mixed families don't understand the pain that we go through. My family and i never go out and vacation, the biggest vacation we have is going to the grocery store and it makes it that much more scarier when a police car is following behind you. To me it is inhumane to take a parent out of a childs life due to a "law". That kid will be traumatized for the rest of their life never fully understanding why they can't see their parent. it breaks my heart but this is my story.

Another reader who posted as "Anonymous" shared this:

My life could be so much easier. Co-signer, husband, insurance, children, acceptance from my family..... But no matter how long it takes
for an immigration policy to help us - I will not stop living. If there are millions of educated, talented, hard working, generous, loving, intelligent, selfless individuals that the US will not embrace..... What will this country look like 50 years from now?

The original posts from last week were collected from submissions sent in to KPCC’s Public Insight Network, which a couple of weeks ago posted a questionnaire related to mixed immigration status. Do you have a story to share? Feel free to post comments below, or view the questions here.