Jessica’s Story: Standing up for reform to defend her husband
Jessica has been with her husband ever since their teenage years, when they were high school sweethearts. Being in a mixed-status marriage (her husband is undocumented), she bravely took it upon herself to write to her Congressman, Paul Cook, to find out what he could do for the young couple. Her experience is shared with millions across the country, and is a testament to how badly our immigration laws are in need of reform.
Hello Congressman Paul Cook — You probably don’t remember me… You stopped by the Up-Close show and I was scrambling to make sure there was a headphone and mic for you in the control room. You didn’t need it though. You left as quickly as you arrived. I’ve produced the show a few times and at least once when you were a guest. I offered you coffee and water. You said yes to water — no to coffee. I hope somehow that you may recognize me — maybe even just as the girl you hear on the airwaves between 1 and 3, despite the few times we’ve crossed paths. But my mentioning my job has nothing to do with my reason for writing you. Actually, I’m writing to you on a very personal note — on something I’ve kept VERY private, but feel you MUST know.
This is a photo of my husband and me on our wedding day last October 6. We got married in Pioneertown after eight years of being together.
We were high school sweethearts. I was 15 when I met him at the front gates of Yucca Valley High School, and he was 16. We never could have predicted the struggles that lay ahead of us.
This man, that I love with all my heart — who stuck by me when my dad passed away and through the depression that came after, came here illegally at the age of two.
There is a bill coming your way that you and your fellow congress members will have to decide on.
All I ask, is that when you make your decision, you think of me… and realize what it will do to me, to people like me, my husband, and people like my husband.
This post alone takes more courage for me to write than you may think. It’s not easy to publicly announce a secret we’ve hidden from the community we try our best to give back to after so many years.
As a congressman I know you face the struggle of sticking to your core beliefs and the immense responsibility you have toward the betterment of your community. He volunteers as a couch for the youth in our town. I volunteer time and resources to a local non-profit. We are a contributing part of your community.
And our futures are in your hands. This is the response I received from him:
Dear Mrs. M,
Thank you for contacting me. It’s always a pleasure to hear from constituents, and I’m honored to have the chance to serve you in Washington.
Now that the Senate has passed its version of immigration reform, the House will begin work on its own solution to the crisis on our border. I believe it is vital that we secure our border and end all illegal immigration to the United States. I believe the pathway to citizenship is for immigrants to follow the law, enter the country legally, and go through the immigration process. People who have entered this country illegally have broken the law and need to pay the penalty for violating our immigration laws. I will keep your concerns in mind when voting on any immigration bill.
Our republic depends on engaged and thoughtful people like you, and I hope to hear from you in the future. If you should have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office by calling 202-225-5861 or by visiting my website http://www.cook.house.gov.
Col. Paul Cook (Ret.)
Member of Congress
I sent an email back to him through his website regarding what “paying the penalty for violating our immigration laws”, even for someone who was two years old when the crime was committed, means to us — the ten year bar, and our separation from family and friends.
I’m afraid my last email will fall on deaf ears, since he already fulfilled his obligation to reply to my last email (despite it being almost a week later).
My husband is ashamed of his illegal status and his fear and shame has kept me from being as active about this issue as I want to be.
He wants me to keep quiet, because he’s embarrassed of others to finding out — but my need to be more active is overcoming my need to be an obedient spouse.
Please let me know any other ways I can be more active — protests, gatherings, recruiting my family and friends to be activists as well — whatever it takes.
You can help Jessica and her husband, and hundreds of thousands of families like theirs, by calling 888-787-9658 to speak with your own representative and tell them to support comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship.