I am Claudia Mendoza and this is my story. This is also my husband’s story.
I came to the US in 2011 with my husband on an F-2 visa. He came on a student visa (F-1) and studied an MBA in Supply Chain at Michigan State University. He graduated in May 2013. He was top of his class. He received several awards during his studies for his excellent academic performance, leadership skills and for helping his classmates in whatever way he could. He was chosen by his classmates to give the graduation speech.
We both come from Venezuela. We are both engineers, and we graduated in 2001 from what used to be one of the best universities in Venezuela and in Latin America as well. This is where we met.
We had planned to work and stay in our country, but the deteriorating political, economic and social situation made our lives harder every day. We were robbed several times, sometimes at gunpoint. Some of our friends were even shot. One of my uncles was kidnapped and days later, murdered. In 2008, one of my brothers was shot on the back by a well-known city bully, so wealthy that he could afford to bribe several judges so my brother’s case will be filed forever and he won’t be prosecuted. In 2008, the company where we worked was nationalized and all the managing positions were given to people from the government’s party, who didn’t know a thing about the business. The company started to lose money and the worker’s morale plummeted.
My family and friends had always considered me an optimistic and happy person, but the tough reality of my country started to affect my health and I became depressed. I had to seek medical help and received medication and therapy. I got better, but after 6 months or so I became depressed again. And this cycle kept repeating from 2007 till 2011, the year we arrived in the US.
Shortly after arriving here I became pregnant. In May 2012 I had a beautiful and healthy baby girl named Paula. She just turned 2 years old. She is the joy of our lives.
Juan, my husband, is currently working at American Airlines. He has a work permit, called OPT (Optional Practical Training) given to foreign students who graduated in American universities and want to work in their field of study. This permit expires on June 30th 2014.
On April 1st 2014, American Airlines filed for a work visa for Juan (H1-B visa). However, this year USCIS received 172,500 applications, more than doubling the total quota of 85,000 visas, so they conducted a lottery and it seems that Juan wasn’t selected -we haven’t received the rejection package yet but USCIS tweeted on May 2 that they had finished processing all the applications, so our lawyer told us that it is almost sure he wasn’t selected-. Therefore, he will have to quit his job on June 30th and we will have to sell everything, say our good-byes and return to Venezuela before August 30th.
If the immigration reform would have already been approved, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Juan is a great professional. His colleagues at American Airlines are really happy to have him in their team, and they can’t believe that he will have to leave in a few weeks. His classmates are also shocked. They didn’t know how broken the immigration system was until they learned of Juan’s story.
We sold our house in Venezuela, our cars, our furniture, and used our savings to pay for Juan’s education so that we could have a better life. During our time in this wonderful country, we have paid all of our taxes. We have done everything right. Now we feel like we are being kicked out. We will have to return to Venezuela in a few weeks. One of the most dangerous countries in the world. A country where there’s no freedom of speech, where you can be incarcerated for an anti-government tweet. A country where our daughter won’t have the same opportunities she would have had here. And I fear that my depression will come back and will make it hard for me to take care of our daughter.
Please share our story to help pass immigration reform. God bless you. And God bless this country.