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When she was two years old, “Maria” crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico on her mother’s back. She grew up as an American, graduated from high school in New Mexico, married a Navajo man and started a family.
She’s now alone in a rundown apartment in Juarez, one of the planet’s most violent cities, far from her husband and children. Part of the price of trying to obtain legal residency is to first leave the country and wait for the immigration bureaucracy to creak forward. She speaks poor Spanish; to her, Mexico is the foreign country.
Maria’s experience, described in a recent publication of the New Mexico Bar Association, is typical for people trying to do the right thing.
Our immigration system is a disaster. It punishes the wrong people. It’s so complicated and punitive, it actually encourages people to enter and stay illegally. It’s costly and ineffective, a nightmare of pointless hurdles and paperwork. And it’s cruel.
Some immigrants hire lawyers, if they can afford them, but that’s no guarantee; lawyers are equally frustrated trying to navigate this labyrinthine legalscape.
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