July 19, 2017

My Parents Are Threatening to Expose My Green-Card Marriage

Hey, Bonita…

I'm a student, and I love my international boyfriend. I was born and raised here. His last visa runs out soon, and he wanted to start the immigration process while he's still here and doesn’t have to stay away while the application is processed, so we went ahead and got married to make things easier. It's not so much that we wanted to marry, but we are super in love and we both wanted him to stay, so why not?

The problem is that my parents know this and are full of white American rage over it. They think he's marrying me for citizenship and will take off once he's legally American. They're very mad, and say we are defrauding or misusing the naturalization process. Now I'm worried they're going to report us and get us both in all kinds of trouble. They never had a problem with him at all before we got married. Now they literally can't be around each other or a huge argument will happen, and he's not even what my dad would call an “illegal.” He's as white as us, and they're losing it.

I love my husband and my parents, but obviously I love my parents in a deeper, lifelong family way, and I am not prepared to say goodbye to them over this. But they're threatening to report me and the love of my life to INS! Maybe we should just take off and finish this process up in a more liberal state?

Your parents sound like grade-A assholes, but they're right when they say you're exploiting the immigration and naturalization process, and for a ridiculous reason. The way you talk about your relationship makes it sound like the sort of intense love affair that we all have at some point in college, and those don't always grow into marriage. This might be one of your parents’ concerns, even if they aren't sharing it.

Also, the legal bindings of marriage run deep and across many aspects of your life, and it's not a decision to be taken lightly. You've further complicated your situation by marrying someone who is not an American citizen for the sole purpose of allowing him to stay here, so you can continue to be boyfriend and girlfriend. I really don't want to be rude, but this was a whimsical decision that wasn't very well thought-out on your part.

Your parents are right to scoff at your behavior, and so do I. I especially scoff at your trying to justify your actions by arguing that since your husband is white, your parents should not care. Your tone communicates distaste for your dad's racism, but you also participate in it by wondering why your white husband isn't getting a pass. Your mindset around immigration is racist. It is offensive to see someone exploiting a system that's currently being used to target and deport brown people seeking the same thing as their white counterparts.

I draw the line at your parents wanting to rat you out, however. Snitches get stitches, as they say. I believe in only calling the police when lives are at stake in the realest way, and I would consider it a waste of taxes to wrangle your husband (or any immigrant in the United States, regardless of citizenship status) into a detainee camp and keep him there for months while organizing his deportation. The family fallout would be intense, devastating and relationship-changing. You would almost certainly encounter fines or maybe even jail time for participating in this scheme, white privilege be damned. Your parents should not create this problem for you.

I'm glad you're in love, but I don't have the advice you're looking for. I'm romantic, but not hopelessly, and as a woman of color, your bravado and disregard for the brown immigrant’s struggle makes me sick. Your parents love you, I'm sure, and you're young. You're making a life-changing decision in a very irresponsible way. Stop telling people about the truth of your marriage, and lie low until your husband gets his citizenship. I want you to think much, much harder in the future when you're making decisions like this.

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