Millions of immigrants took advantage of a 1986 law that allowed them the right to gain a green card. While many of those people received temporary status, some failed to pursue formal citizenship due to a fear that mistakes in their youth would prevent them from being eligible. One man that was part of the 1986 immigration program did not pursue citizenship because of a felony conviction he received prior to obtaining a green card. He reportedly lied to a border agent about his status after he tried to reenter the United States at the California border.
He obtained the temporary status shortly after the law was passed in 1986, but he was still not allowed to cross the border back into his home country while his green card application was pending. However, he decided to go home to visit family members anyways, and he was apprehended and thrown into jail after attempting to cross back into California. He was charged with a felony after he reportedly told authorities he was already a United States citizen. More recently, he married an undocumented immigrant, later learning that her chances of becoming legal would be increased if he obtained his citizenship. While the man did receive his green card about three years after he gained temporary legal status, he remains fearful that he will be denied citizenship with the felony on his record if he chooses to move forward with the application.
He also fears his green card could be stripped, and he might be deported. Statistics show around 40 percent of almost three million people in the immigration program went on to become citizens. Over half never pursued citizenship, possibly because of the fee and civics test required. In this instance, the man also worries that his felony conviction could result in his deportation. He also fears for his own health if his wife is deported because she administers the medication he needs for his diabetes.
Immigrants living in California have new paths available to them, especially with the ongoing immigration reform. However, those who have committed crimes while residing in the United States constantly fear deportation. Those interested in gaining citizenship would likely benefit from seeking the right assistance. Doing so could go a long ways toward achieving the dream of citizenship.
Source: Yahoo!, “Ubaldo: Legal, job woes follow amnesty recipient,” Liz Goodwin, Feb. 7, 2013