By Rachel Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - Juan De la Torre is living in the United States completely legally. He came here from Mexico with his parents at age 14. His father, a migrant worker, became a permanent resident and filed immigrant petitions for the whole family.
Eighteen years later, De la Torre is still in a constant cycle of waitingto hear from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He's not an American citizen. He doesn't even have a green card, or permanent residency status. He's just in limbo, waiting to upgrade to a green card from his approved immigrant petition.
In the immigration debate that has gripped the country, De la Torre is one of many legal immigrants who feel they've been overlooked. What to do about millions of undocumented immigrants has been discussed at length in government and the media. But legal immigrants, who say they're spending countless hours and thousands of dollars to do it right, want reform to help their struggle, too.
The U.S. seems like it hasn't come a very long way since the '60s sometimes. My wife and brother-in-law haven't had a very good time of it in the U.S., even though they were born U.S. citizens overseas. My brother in law suffered discrimination on account of his complexion and accent to the point where he was followed around inside stores by hostile-looking strangers and my wife can hardly go any anywhere to do anything without getting leering looks and stonewalling. She quit her job because of the coworker harassment and the only way she can get decent service anywhere is if I go with her. The immigration situation is only one aspect of the real problem. This country I was born in will NEVER be "one nation...with liberty and justice for all."
Pete, I was born in NYC in 1958 and my parents were born American citizens in Puerto Rico, where I met my wife of 27 years, raised three wonderful children and spent the best years of my life. While life on the island was never a piece of cake, here in the U.S. I witnessed the most virulent forms of chauvinism, bigotry, arrogance and uninformed presumption, and YOU are a case in point.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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