Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Story

How do you begin the biggest story of your life? How do you grab the attention of the people who could possibly give you the happy ending you have been waiting for?

My name is Stephanie. Currently, I am in Brazil waiting in exile with my husband Sidnei, for the last 4 years. Sidnei was deported in April 2009. Unless something changes, I will be here at least another 6 years.

The Beginning
In December 2006 I graduated from Brigham Young University in Sociology. 
I then moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in January 2007 to work in the family business. That is where I met Sidnei just a short time later. It was head over heels, crazy in love, whirlwind romance. In September 2007 we were engaged to be married.
I knew before we got engaged that Sidnei was undocumented. He had explained his story to me, but like many, I thought all of those details were irrelevant. Our marriage would take care of his legal problems. What many don't know is how the rules have changed. 

We were married on March 8th, 2008.
We had a beautiful wedding with all of our friends and family around us. It was truly a fairy tale wedding. The next day we were off to a blissfully relaxing week in St. Thomas Virgin Islands. 

This is where the fairy tale turns into a nightmare
During all the wedding planning, I hadn't taken into account Sidnei's status. I planned our honeymoon assuring Sidnei that we could travel without problems. All you needed was a driver's license to go to St. Thomas, we would be fine! The day we went to the airport, my stomach sank as I realized we would need to go through customs. Long story short, in an instant my world came crashing down around me and I came home from my honeymoon with no husband. 

Sidnei stayed behind in St. Thomas in the local jail. He was later transported to Puerto Rico where he stayed from March 15, 2008 until April 1, 2009. The entire year was a nightmare of trying to communicate with my husband, fighting for him to not get deported. The process takes so much longer in St. Thomas. The justice system there works much more slowly in St. Thomas. I assume mainly because it is a territory. It was the worst year of my life. I don't think I have ever felt so defeated in all my life. 

I made the decision that if my husband could not be with me in the United States, then I would go to be with him in Brazil. I left behind my family, friends, job, everything I had ever known. Four years have passed. It seems like a moment ago and a lifetime ago all at the same time. 

Unless something changes, Sidnei and I will be in Brazil for at least another 6 years. Every day, I mourn the time I have lost with my family. I cry for the babies being born that I will not have the chance to hold, the thanksgiving dinners that I am missing. I fear for things that will happen. My grandmother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, will she remember me next year? 6 years? I long for my babies (who have not yet been born) to feel the pride that I feel when I see the American flag and sing The Pledge of Allegiance. I want to share with them all the things that I know and love. I want for think of home as I do. 

Right now a comprehensive immigration reform is being drafted. I urge everyone especially law makers, to remember those outside of the USA. I am happy that those inside the US will have a pathway to citizenship. But there are so many American CITIZENS waiting outside the US...Remember those who are waiting to come home. Include us, make a pathway for us. We want to come home. 

Bring us home.  

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