Undocumented and Pregnant: Survival Tips.

So you’re undocumented and have just found out that you are pregnant. Maybe you are scared and uncertain about what you should do for yourself and your unborn child. Here are 5 things my wife and I did, that will help you navigate this new chapter in your life:

  1. Don’t panic. My wife’s pregnancy was unplanned, so naturally we were both freaked out when we learned about it. At the time, we were both weeks away from being deported. The doctors’ offices and hospitals we called for help and advice were as useless as my appendix. One nurse even suggested that my wife hang tight for 9 months and then hobble into the nearest hospital after her water broke. Thank God we didn’t take her boneheaded advice!
  1. Apply for CHIP. The CHIP I mean is really not related to a computer, a potato, or a cartoon character. It’s actually a form of health insurance for children who come from low or no income families. Applying and qualifying for it (they don’t really care about your immigration status) will enable you go for checkups and deliver your child without having to pay a cent. Here is a site you can use to find the Health Insurance programs that your state has: http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/state/index.html
  1. Pick an insurance company. After you apply for CHIP and they determine you are eligible, they will send you paperwork to enroll in CHIP. They’ll also include a list of insurance companies that carry CHIP as a health plan. The insurance company you pick will determine which doctor you can get. Pick the one that suits your needs.
  1. Pick a Doctor. Once you find a doctor who takes the insurance you fancy, call them to confirm that they take that insurance and if they do, set up an appointment.
  1. Enroll in WIC. WIC stands for Women Infants and Children. It is a supplemental program. It will not take care of your entire grocery bill but it will help provide nutritious food for you and your child. This government program has been a lifesaver, especially after our child was born. With WIC’s help my wife and I are able to get free Formula and baby food for our daughter, Pookie. Our local WIC office has a staff who have offered my wife really good classes (both online and onsite), advice, and tips on how to care for herself and our child. Google WIC + your city to find your local WIC office.

Simply put, your next move now is to find a doctor, and enroll in CHIP and WIC as you await the coming of your child.

 

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An Emerging Crisis.

A new immigration crisis has emerged. Over the past few years more than 40,000 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have been showing up at the southern border asking for asylum because of the rising gang violence in their home countries.

So who is to blame for this influx of children? Frankly, there is enough blame to go around. One could blame the US for supporting corrupt Central American governments. One could also blame Mexico for adopting new immigration policies that make it easier for Central Americans to enter and cross Mexico. One could even blame the parents of these children for sending them on a perilous journey to a country that they believe won’t reject their traumatized children.

It is highly unlikely that these minors will be granted asylum. They will most likely be detained and processed. Some will be released to relatives in the US after paying bond, but most will eventually be placed in deportation proceedings.

The solution to this crisis is not simple, but something could be done to begin nipping this crisis in the bud. I believe that “something” is Immigration Reform. Immigration Reform will fix the current broken system and usher in a system that works.

A system that works is one that will allow 11 million of us living in the shadows to start living our lives in the light. A system that works will bring the backlogged Immigration Court system from the Stone Age into the 21st century. A system that works will secure the border and make it easier for foreigners to enter this country without having to risk their lives.

Sad as this crisis is, I’m glad that it has brought Immigration Reform back into the limelight. My wish as a parent is that when all is said and done, these children will end up in a place where they won’t have to worry about gang violence, or constantly be afraid of deportation. Until then, we all need to keep fighting for Immigration Reform.

 

Hope

hopeWEB

Just when I thought that nobody gave a flip about the Undocumented, my wife and I stumbled upon an amazing non-profit organization called the Hope Resource Center of McKinney.

Six weeks into my wife’s pregnancy, we walked into the Hope Resource Center clueless, scared and concerned about our future.

The general advice I’d received from almost every hospital nurse that I’d talked to was to tell my pregnant and undocumented wife to hang in there, take prenatal supplements and then dash to the nearest hospital ER when her water broke.

As far as we were concerned, there was no way in Hades we were going to do that to our unborn child. So we ignored their horrendous advice and began looking for a center that would counsel us and point us in the right direction.

After some googling and calling around, we came across the Hope Resource Center and made an appointment with them . We arrived at the Resource Center on the appointed day with many questions, fears and reservations. Our trepidation was laid to rest when a very sweet Nurse came up to us and asked to see my wife. Later, she came and asked me if I wanted to join my wife in her office.

I jumped at the opportunity because I had a question. It seemed to me like every other second, my pregnant wife would complain that she was tired. So I asked the Nurse if this “tiredness” complaint would be there through all three semesters.

The Nurse smiled and instead of calling me a moron for saying semester instead of trimester, she assured me that it was natural for pregnant women to be tired. “Her tiredness” she said, “is because, among other things, the baby inside her is growing by leaps and bounds.”

About a week later we returned to the Resource Center for a free ultrasound. Nothing really prepares you for that very first image of your unborn child. Though hazy and still not really defined, I saw my child in all its glory. It was at that moment, it really dawned on me that I was going to be a father!

The staff at the center couldn’t have been nicer. They rejoiced with us as we watched the ultrasound of our baby and, before we left, they gave us hugs, gifts and promised to pray for our immigration situation. Their compassion and genuine love for us made up for all the hate, spite and insensitivity we’d received over the course of this past year.

After receiving ultrasound photos of our unborn child, a handmade shawl and a devotional book, my wife and I hopped into our ride and drove to the other side of town to meet with our immigration lawyer. We’d just left a place that was full of hope, love and support and were heading into the real world; a world that seemed to care less about us because of our immigration status.

The Immigration Reform Battle Goes On.

Whenever people talk about the Undocumented or “illegal” immigrant, they are in fact talking about me. You see, I’m an undocumented immigrant and it really irks and hurts when I hear hate and lies being spewed about the Undocumented by anti-immigration proponents. These xenophobes claim that we the Undocumented are criminals and parasites who need to remain in the dark, get deported, or magically wished out of existence.

A few weeks ago, the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill was on the Senate floor where it was discussed and debated upon. The loudest mouths in the Senate also happened to be foes of immigration reform. Senators like Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions, and Chuck Grassley, among others, stood up and railed incessantly against the bill. When the time came for the Senate members to vote on the Gang’s bill, it was passed with a vote of 68-32.

This bill is far from perfect. If it gets passed in its present form, about 4 of the 11 million Undocumented won’t meet the criteria for legalization and will either get deported or driven deeper into the shadows.  Those legalized are bound to fall out of status if they become unemployed for more than 60 days. With this bill, E-Verify will become mandatory and communication between ICE and local police will be more streamlined, making it easier for them to target people who look, act, or sound “illegal.”

Now that the Senate has passed the bill, the ball is in the House’s court and what will happen to it from here on out is anybody’s guess. So far, Speaker John Boehner who is the speaker of the House doesn’t seem keen on passing the Senate bill. Thanks to gerrymandering, Republican members of the House don’t have much of an incentive to pass it. More than 200 of them have less than 25 percent Latinos in their districts.

Ultimately, the passing or the killing of the immigration bill will boil down to whether the Republican party cares more about appeasing their Caucasian constituents, rather than winning the next presidential election. Many believe that this bill will not pass unless Speaker John Boehner commits career suicide by passing it in the House without the full support of the majority who for the most part happen to be conservative House Republicans.

Looking at the facts, it is quite clear that the path ahead for the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill won’t be easy. Some even believe that it will downright take a miracle for the bill to pass. I believe in miracles and I’m confident that immigration reform will pass this year, simply because it’s about time a bill legalizing 11 million Undocumented Americans, like me, was passed.

 

Times, they really are a-Changin.

For years, anti-immigration groups like NumbersUSA, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)* have been using fear to keep the undocumented in this country mute and afraid. By spewing out slanted statistics, and xenophobic rhetoric, they have been very effective in brainwashing gullible citizens to dislike the undocumented.

 My favorite folk singer, Bob Dylan, sang a song called  Times, “They are a-Changin’.” Indeed, the Bobster was right. Times they are a-changing for the 11 million of us who are undocumented.

On the 5th of this month, House Republicans and Democrats held a hearing to wrap their minds around this immigration “issue.” The session was interrupted by a group of young protesters called Dreamers, who repeatedly chanted, “Undocumented and unafraid!” This act of defiance is emblematic of the sentiments many young undocumented immigrants in this country have. We’re tired of being used, but seldom appreciated. We’re also tired of being afraid, and we’re willing to come out into the open to speak our minds, despite the consequences.

Anti-immigration fanatics (you know yourselves) know that we are all onto them. The American people are no longer buying their tripe. These clowns now seem scared and shaken, and they ought to be because the time has come for the undocumented to be acknowledged, appreciated and helped.

In 2007 President George W. Bush brought forward a bill to legalize undocumented immigrants. Sadly, his bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 that he needed to push toward a final vote. Fast forward to 2013 and everyone, except those who have been living under a rock, agrees that the immigration system is broken. NOW is the time to fix it through comprehensive immigration reform.

So to those who are asking me and my compatriots to self-deport back to México, even though many of us aren’t from México, we have this to say to you: We are no longer afraid. Either join us, or get out of our way because immigration reform will happen this time. Whether you like it or not. Times, they really are a-changin’.

http://www.humanlifereview.com/index.php/component/content/article/68-2012-fall/205-hijacking-immigration

What’s Your Game Plan?

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress had a kumbaya moment and passed the immigration reform bill. If that happened, what would your game plan be? Presently, nobody quite knows how the reform bill will look. However, there are about four things that people predict you and I will have to deal with if, or when, the bill is signed into law.

1. Coming out. This is probably going to be the hardest and scariest decision you’ll have to make because of its consequences. There are many ‘what if’s’ that you will need to ask yourself: “What if I’m forced to tell my employer that I used fake documents to get the job?” “How will I go about paying my back taxes?” “If I come out and fail to pass any one of the many requirements they have, will I be deported?” “Do I have the money to pay fines as well as possible attorney fees?” “What will my friends and family members say when they learn that I’m undocumented?” These, among many other questions, should be considered before you decide to come out of the shadows.

2. Fines. We will probably have to pay a fine of some kind. Let’s face it, we broke the law and since this is not 1986 and our president is not Ronald Reagan, I doubt that someone is going to walk up to us, thank us for being undocumented and then give us Amnesty. Though we don’t know how much the fines will be, my guess is that unless Congress does away with the “fine the illegals” idea, the fines will be anywhere from $1-$2,000 a person. It’s important to consider the paying of fines as a possibility and figure out where you will find the money to pay them.

3. Temporary visas. We may or may not get a renewable temporary visa to stay and work legally in this country. My hope is that we’ll get green cards and that we won’t have to leave the US for the visas or green cards to be processed. Leaving of course would mean more spending in order to become legal. The truth of the matter is that most of us aren’t rich and it would be nice if Congress did us a kindness and really put that into consideration as they work on the immigration bill.

4. Waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting is something that we immigrants are used to. Some of us have waited patiently for decades, with the hope that the American people would officially acknowledge our existence and toil to legalize us. If lawmakers like the “Gang of Eight” and Marco Rubio have their way, we’ll all be required to go to the back of the Green Card line. This line still has individuals in it who applied to come to the US way back in the 80s. That was when parachute pants were in, and bangs that reached for the heavens were said to be “totally rad.” The way the current immigration system works, it may take us a couple of centuries to get the papers needed to live and work legally in the US. Congress needs to figure out a way to speed up the Green Card process. Otherwise, they would be letting us die of thirst at the side of the fountain.

If congress passes the immigration reform bill, we’ll all be able to hit the reset button of our lives. We’ll finally be free! We won’t need to look over our shoulder for ICE agents or freak out when someone knocks on our door. We’ll be able to tell the whole truth about ourselves to anyone and everyone, and we’ll no longer be preyed on because of our undocumented status.

There is no better day than today for you to be strong and courageous. It’s time you worked on a game plan just in case Congress does the right thing and allows us to live and work legally in this great country.