by Jiovanna Campbell
When I was three years old, I was brought to California undocumented by my parents in pursuit of a better life, the American Dream. I attended school in California from preschool all the way through college. During high school I met Ryan, the man who is now my husband.
Early in our relationship, I told Ryan about my immigration status because I felt like we had something good going and I wanted to be honest with him. His response to that news was “I love you and that’s not going to change over something like that.” We continued dating, and four years later when he asked me to marry him I said “Yes!” We decided to try to change my legal status in the country because Ryan was constantly worried about me with all the deportations that were taking place.
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“Mr. Shusterman helped me all the way since I arrived in the USA 17 years ago on a visiting scholar visa until this month when I have become a US citizen.”
- Jose Mediano
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One of Ryan’s co-workers had married an undocumented immigrant as well, and they recommended us to the notario who had helped his wife with her paperwork. Neither Ryan nor I had any clue on how to go about the process, so we decided to contact the notario and let her take care of the paperwork that needed to be done. We were confident that everything was going to be okay as I was brought to the U.S. as a child, had lived in California for 20 years, was a good student, a blood donor, and did community service. We never even imagined the nightmare that was approaching.
Everything seemed to be going just fine up until the date of my interview in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. When I was called up to the window, I was asked about how I met my husband, what kind of job he had, and so forth. The last question I was asked was if I had ever left the U.S., and I answered, “Yes, when my uncle died and we took his body to Mexico for burial.” I was not sure of the exact date, but they asked me to estimate, so I said when I was about ten. As it turns out, I was actually nine, which made all the difference on whether I got to come back home or not.
My interview was over then and there, and I was handed a sheet informing me that I was given a ten-year ban from reentering the U.S. without the option to submit a waiver. I was so confused! My interview took only about five minutes, and in those five minutes, my whole life had turned upside down. I left the premises and called the notario. When I told her what had happened and tried to get some sort of explanation, she said she would call me back. I never heard from her again.
When I told Ryan, he was devastated and just as confused as I was. We didn’t know what was going on, as we had been told by the notario that everything was going to be okay and I was going to be back home in no time. The following days were kind of a blur, as we didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. Ryan came back to California to look for help, while I stayed at an aunt’s house in Mexico (who I hadn’t seen in many years) trying to find help on the internet.
A few days after being in Mexico, I found out I was pregnant and could not believe it. I had had a miscarriage a year before and now I was pregnant again and in such a tragic situation. I was so happy and devastated at the same time, knowing that I was finally going to be a mom but that I was away from my husband, family, friends, and home.
Ryan talked to numerous lawyers trying to find help to get me back home, but ALL of the lawyers turned him down, saying there was no way my situation could be fixed. They told Ryan that I had to stay in Mexico for ten years before I could apply for a visa again, and that even then it was not one hundred percent certain that the visa would be granted. This went on for two months, during which time I was on the internet day and night trying to find out what had triggered the ten year ban without the opportunity to file a waiver. I had not gotten any explanation from the person who interviewed me. I read and read, trying to find something that could help me come back home.
That is when I came across Law Offices of Carl Shusterman. I found on his website countless useful information as well as details about the law that I was unaware of, that would later bring me back home. This law stated that any illegal entrance to the country prior to 1997 did not count when applying for the change of status. Therefore, since my parents brought me undocumented to the U.S. when I was three, I did qualify for the ten year ban waiver.
Although I had that information and all the evidence (my uncle’s death certificate, etc.) I needed to prove that I had made a mistake during my interview when I was asked the date of my departure from the U.S., I still could not find a lawyer who would take my case as they all said I was misinterpreting the law and didn’t qualify.
I decided to contact the Law Offices of Carl Shusterman in a last attempt to try to find help. I wrote down the laws I thought would help me and how, and explained the mistake I had made in my answer at the U.S. Consulate interview that triggered the ten-year ban without the right to a waiver. I scheduled a phone consultation and both Carl and Attorney Amy Prokop who would then be taking care of my case. They said that the laws I found would in fact help my case but that I needed to have evidence to back up that I made a mistake during my interview for them to be able to help me. I told them I did, and from then on they worked so hard to get me home and every hurdle that was placed in our way they found a way to overcome.
I gave birth to my son in Mexico and he is now almost eight months old. I could go on and on about all of the hardship my family and I when through, but I know that everyone can imagine the nightmare I lived through for 16 months. Imagine how hard it was for me, being away from my family and home while expecting my first child all the while living in a country that, although my birth country, was completely new to me.
I received my green card last week on my 25th birthday, and returned to the United States.
I am forever thankful to have found Carl Shusterman and Amy Prokop, and am now glad that no other lawyer took my case because I know no one would have worked as hard to get me back home. Yes, it is their job, but they also have the heart and good intentions that all immigration lawyers need to honestly help their clients and not just pursue financial benefits. Because of them I am reunited with my husband, and my son has a home with both his mom and dad. Thanks to them I can walk around without fear and pursue all my dreams and goals in the place I was raised and call home.