There are different ways to become a U.S. resident, which by the way, is different from becoming a citizen. Being a resident means receiving a green card; a document that allows individuals to live and work in the country, but not vote.
While some Latinos like myself are able to come to the U.S. legally and establish themselves in the country, many others are unable to do so. From the more than 55 million Latinos living in the U.S. today, about 18% are undocumented.
Before Vianey and her family moved from Mexico to the United States, her father had been coming to the country on a temporary basis to earn money and send it back. But after four times, the family decided that it was time to stay together. They all entered the country illegally and have been undocumented since.
A visa is a document that allows individuals to either visit or move to the United States on a temporary basis. There are many, many types of visas: for tourists, students or workers. When Vianey and her family thought about moving to the United States, they would have had to apply for a work visa. There are multiple categories within this type of visa, most of which are for highly skilled people with advanced degreed, or special talents. The three categories below, are examples of the types of visa Vianey's family could have been eligible for. However, they all require U.S. employers to provide an employment certificate, a requirement that many immigrants don't know how to obtain.
Given the difficulty in obtaining visas, many immigrants prefer to cross the border illegally and remain in the country undocumented.
During the past couple of years there have been numerous attempts to pass comprehensive immigration reform to provide a path to legalization for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country. No efforts have been successful.
In 2012, President Obama announced an executive action that would benefit undocumented youth like Vianey. The action known as DACA provides limited benefits to certain undocumented youth.
While these benefits have made the lives of many undocumented youth easier, they are also temporary and could be taken away by a new president.
The goal of this platform is to collect personal stories of Latino immigrants, and to use them as a vehicle to explain to a larger audience the hurdles and complexities of the immigration system.
If you identify as Latino and want to add your immigration story to this platform, get in touch!