The Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC, 20500
Subject: Open Letter - Immigration policy, divorce, and separated children
Dear Mr. President,
As a concerned father of a resident US Citizen living in Wisconsin I would like to write and comment on the state of the US immigration system and on the debated changes. I do not write for inappropriate favoritism, yet my interest in these affairs obviously is based on personal experience. Also, after years of living in the US, returning to East German home turf is not like home anymore; I feel as much American as European.
Originally I came to the US in 1998 to pursue a PhD in graduate school, entering the University of Tennessee. This is where I also met my past wife, another German expatriate. This is where I fevered with the US when the horrible news of 9/11 unfolded, and I fevered with the Americans during presidential campaigns. To be honest, I felt more at ease with the opponent side, but I understand and honor how America is run.
Moving on to Wisconsin, and onto marrying my German co-expatriate, I progressed through a series of postdoctoral appointments, working under H1B conditions and restrictions. Times for my supervisors in basic science were not easy, so due to lack of funds and my own inability (postdoctoral and non-resident status) to qualify for US grants I did not get any stable job. My wife meanwhile had the fortune of finding a good corporate employer who also started sponsoring her Green Card. We moved into our own new house, and had a baby. However, my inability to land a lasting job helped bring about the collapse of our marriage against my will. Shortly after the birth of our daughter, after a last minute effort to stay for her birth, I was divorced and removed in a state of depression and disbelief. As foreseen, I still could get no Green Card sponsoring job, and my time permitted on H1B neared its ultimate end. I had no other way but leaving when also a job offer in Germany came. I did not dare staying on as illegal alien, which would not just be inappropriate, but devastating for my future life, career, and thus relationship to my infant daughter.
After 9 years of spotless residency and having paid all taxes, I am back in Germany to a bumpy new start, while my daughter just turned 2. Perhaps I will never see her again. I would not dare begging the US for changes had I not an innocent daughter there who is otherwise damned to grow up fatherless. While the public fears “anchor babies” I can only say that done according to the law, there is no such category of human. My daughter may, if she still knows me, wishes so and can afford it, apply for a Green Card for me in distant 19 years when I am old and unproductive for US society, while instead, she would need me now. “Anchors” may perhaps only help people already illegal.
I am aware that I may have made wrong choices in my scientific career path, place I moved to, choice of partner. In economically instable times and times of relative equality of women, high divorce rates are expected. Society at large may not be to blame for the countless personal tragedies. Yet it is the laws and societal circumstances where such tragedies unfold.
I have learned that the United States has not ratified the US 1) Convention on the Rights of the Child. The latter states in Article 9 that children shall not be separated from parents against their will. I assume that even an infant without expressed will would not wish to be separated from a parent. Germany, according to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, may not anymore deport divorced parents of children residing in the country. Brazil, according to Resolution 36, also grants residency to foreign parents of dependent children.
The United States has countless, often uneducated illegal immigrants. If their status is improved by the famous path to citizenship, or left unchanged, I believe that the US would do well to also treat educated foreigners with proper relations in the US better. Especially those foreign natives that have followed all rules should be treated at least equally.
The H1B regulations as well as Green Card delays are constantly endangering families. For example, it is near impossible to switch jobs easily. On paper, if for any reason a job, in academia hence also research money, runs out, one has 24 hours to leave. I myself could not visit friends and family, or research conferences outside the US, for several years, because of the short periods of funding and the extended waits for visa interviews. Obviously this has further damaged family life as well as career options. And if marriages between citizens and foreigners, or two foreigners with citizen children, fail under such conditions, the children will likely lose a parent.
The state of the immigration system is shameful for the United States, the self-declared champion of human rights. I myself have earned an advanced US degree, both benefiting from US tax money and giving back to society, and in the least with giving the US another citizen. Insecure times, and my wish to preserve my family and staying where my ex-wife was given her the chance for her Green Card, have meant that I am losing all.
Now I have vowed to myself to keep fighting. As a father of a citizen who is not intending to be that dreaded deadbeat father, I feel myself both entitled, and required to fight for a change. I am in touch with the staffers of congressmen Kohl, Feingold, Kennedy, and congresswoman Baldwin, and will document my fight and contact with media on the internet. Unfortunately, while covering equally sad immigrant stories such as that of Madison’s Asmeret Yosef, the unfortunate Antje Croton case, or foreign widows of deceased citizens, the story of a divorced father is less to the media outlets, perhaps already not favorable to father’s rights. Thus, I must engage myself on the internet, and with open letters.
If I ever am able to move back to the US after my middle age, I could only do so if there is a reasonable chance of succeeding there in the job market, otherwise I would risk homelessness in either country at old age. Unless also, the US is granting more relaxed work visas to parents of citizen children born innocently during legal residency times of a parent. Basically, I wish there was a visa category that allows switching positions, e.g. in times of economic downturn (for example, research funding hardships), to related, lesser jobs. I do not demand citizenship or Green Card if not appropriate, but for the sake of my child, I would like something near to it. Yet, as I have said, I do not see this as a fight for just myself. In these times of globalization, there are countless sad international divorce stories and will be.
Please, Mr. President, help the innocent dependents of a failed visa policy! Urge congress for a balanced, facetted immigration law encompassing both national security and the morals and family values you as a professed Christian nation adhere to. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Dr. Dirk Krueger
1) It was meant to write UN (United Nations).