By Lindsay Hale
Bemidji State University
This week here in Cuernavaca, we had the great opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers, one of them including Giselle Stern-Hernandez  who spoke of her struggle as a deportee’s wife. Her father is an Eastern European descendant living in New York and her Mother is a middle-class Mexican woman. Both parents had an income which left them cozy but not wealthy.In 1966 it was a snap to renew her mother’s visa and in 1990, she applied for U.S citizenship.Giselle had always considered herself an American but that image would slightly change when she met Roberto, an undocumented worker from Mexico.
As the relationship progressed and eventually resulted in marriage, Roberto and Giselle would face numerous struggles with immigration, deportation, and acceptance. Roberto and Giselle were married right before the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) 245 deadline was placed. Filing these papers did not come at an easy task.
In our visit to the United States Embassy in Mexico City, prices of visas and the time and effort that it takes never came up in any of the conversations we had with the representatives. To me it was perceived as an unanswerable question and was avoided.
Finally after struggle to get through all this they see an INS officer. Giselle handed him every piece of information she had: a marriage certificate, her passport, etc. and they were told that Roberto would not be able to enter the United States for 20 years. “Don’t these documents mean anything?” Giselle watched as her husband was led away in hand cuffs. She was sent home to pack a bag for Roberto, “what do you pack for your husband who is going to be deported, something funny that will make them laugh, or something serious to tell him that you love him?”
“The United States immigration does not work in the complicated areas.” What I took away from our visit to the U.S Embassy regarding immigration was that obtaining a visa was easy and anyone who applies and has the correct paperwork is able to receive a visa. However Giselle and Roberto (like many others) did not experience that in motion. So in reality, much of the information obtained in our visit to Mexico City is not reiterated from life experiences here.Giselle with CGE-Mexico Director Anita right after monologue
Throughout the monologue that Giselle shared with our group, she generously shared her passion, grief, and anger that have proved to be challenging to her marriage and to fellow Latinos. She revealed points of racism and classism, power and positionality. It was shocking to be pulled in a story such as Giselle’s and be blindsided by reality. This does happen. Applying for a visa is very difficult and time consuming, unlike what the U.S Embassy described to us.
As an American, I feel guilty and angry for the way our government is handling their affairs. So I will leave with a final quote in the hopes that you will reflect on the reality of struggles that many immigrants face. “Who will be next; who in your life will be next; who in this room will be the next deportee’s wife?”
ALSO visit Giselle´s website and BLOG
www.gsternhernandez.com (find out MORE about her monologue!)
1] Giselle Stern-Hernandez, A Mexican-North American writer and performer of the monologue “The Deportee’s Wife;” www.gsternhernandez.com. Performance in Cuernavaca, Mexico on March 11, 2010.