(Margarita Flores-Dunez takes a photo at her US citizen commencement)

In an exclusive live interview with Margarita Flores-Dunez, a resilient immigrant who navigated the intricate path to American citizenship during the 70’s and 80’s, shed light on the agonizing immigration processes she endured. Her compelling narrative sheds light on the lengthy waits for citizenship in the United States while seeking refuge for a better life. 

Q: Margarita, could you share your journey through the immigration process in the United States during the 70’s and 80’s?

Margarita: While being in Mexico, I was able to arrange enough money to obtain documents for my four children to migrate to Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to have my sister who was already in the US to house my children. I spent years away from them and with that, I began an alcohol addiction in the absence of myself. We had to navigate through a maze of paperwork, interviews, and background checks until finally years later, it was my turn to be with my family. 

Q: What were the most challenging aspects of the immigration process for you and your family?

Margarita: The waiting for an acceptance letter was the constant state of uncertainty that we lived in. Fear was the feeling that I felt the most. Days would pass by as I would plan to stay indoors as I was unaware of what the outside world had in store for me. I just knew I had to stay clear of police officials as any little thing could jeopardize the status of my family’s future. 

Q: How did the extended immigration process affect your family’s integration into American Society?

Margarita: The long wait created a standstill period. Thankfully my sister who gained her citizenship was able to help my children get into public school and start their journey to their new life. There was a lack of financial support as I was unable to provide for my family. My sister shared her home with us, and we had about ten people all under one roof. My children faced challenges in school due to unresolved immigration status. It was a constant battle to prove ourselves and contribute positively to the society we were eager to be a part of. 

Q: Do you believe the immigration process has improved since your journey, or are the still significant challenges? 

Margarita: I waited over 20 years to receive an acknowledgment letter and it was only due to my age. Since I am considered a senior citizen, I was now recognized as a potential candidate. The waiting is excruciating and there have not been any promising changes to help the process for people to obtain a fighting chance. The evolving political climate and policy create further uncertainty for immigrants. It’s important to identify the crucial streamline of ongoing waiting to ensure that families don’t have to endure unnecessary hardships while pursuing the American dream. 

Margarita’s story reflects the struggles of countless immigrants who embark on the challenging journey to the United States seeking a better life. The prolonged immigration process seems far out of reach in the eyes of an immigrant. It not only affects the individuals involved but also the society they aspire to become a part of. 

The extended waiting times often lead to families existing in a state of perpetual uncertainty.  This uncertainty impedes their ability to fully contribute to their communities and integrate into American society. It dampens their access to essential services, restricts educational opportunities for children, and limits their economic participation. 

It’s important to recognize an efficient and humane immigration system to be morally imperative and economical. Immigrants contribute to the US economic standing significantly through diversity and vitality. Streamlining the immigration process can assess society at large. Addressing the issues within the immigration system requires a comprehensive approach. Policymakers must prioritize reforms that reduce waiting times, simplify paperwork, and create a more transparent and accessible process. 

As a nation built by immigrants, the United States should aspire to uphold the values of compassion, inclusivity, and opportunity for all. By reforming the immigration process, we can ensure that the American dream remains alive. Margarita’s story is one of the many who arrive seeking a better life, it’s time for change and to advocate for a more efficient and human immigration system that reflects the principles upon which this nation was founded. 

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