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Opinions of Sunday, 26 July 2009

Columnist: Lola

To File Or Not To File-That Is The Question!

The story I am about to regale you with is about a friend of a friend. I do not know too much about her, but from the little that I know of her, she is a very nice girl. My reason for this article is to gauge people’s opinions and tell my friend, so she can relay it to her friend.

About a year and a half ago, Cece (not her real name), then a 29-year-old young lady of Ghanaian descent, met the love of her life. Jason (not his real name) was cute, charming, articulate, bright and polite; he swept Cece off her feet. Cece could not remember ever being so happy with any other man prior to meeting this charming 36-year-old Ghanaian: Of all the men Cece had dated in the past, none of them could compare to Jason.

They dated for a while, and then met each other’s families – his distant relatives; her mom and other relatives. According to Cece, she had never seen her mom overcome with such joy as she was the day she took Jason home to meet with her. In fact, Cece says that certain members of her family started to treat her differently, (with more respect), as a result of bringing home such a charming, well-groomed young man. And they playfully teased her about the “losers” she had dated prior to Jason.

As you can imagine, Cece was now on “cloud nine.” She had achieved her academic goals, she had a great career, and now, she was with the man of her dreams. One weekend, Jason took her out of State for a romantic weekend getaway, where he, according to her, proposed marriage to her in the most romantic way that one could possibly imagine! Being a girl, as soon as Cece came home from her weekend rendezvous, she called her “girls” to tell them about her new status as a fiancée, and they were all happy for her. When Cece told her mom, the woman wept, (tears of joy).

Jason and Cece set a date to have their traditional Ghanaian wedding this summer. But then came the day Jason needed to tell his wife-to-be about his secret before the wedding could take place. He started by apologizing for keeping this secret from her. As he started to speak, “Baby, I am so sorry…” he could not find the rest of his words. As Cece stood there, gazing at her soon-to-be husband, all kinds of thoughts ran through her mind: “Is he going to tell me he is gay, he has a wife already, he no longer loves me, what?” And then Jason spoke, “I am in this country illegally. I know I should have told you sooner, but I didn’t know how you would have reacted. I do not want you to feel that you have to file for me after we get married; I DO NOT expect you to.”

The now-31-year-old young woman of Ghanaian descent was not sure what to make of either the “news” or the man before her. She continued to gaze at Jason and then thought to herself, “How can he hide something like this from me? Does he really love me or is he just looking for a Green Card? How do I know he does not have a wife and children back home? Does he take me for a fool?” When she finally found her voice to speak again, the words that rolled off her tongue were, “What else are you hiding? Is your name really Jason?” She could see the pain on his face as the questions came out of her mouth, but she did not care. He had broken the trust she had for him, and at that moment, she saw him, not as Jason, the charming man he fell head over heels for, but as a liar! And no amount of sorrow on his face was going to convince her otherwise.

After what seemed like an eternity staring at him, Cece left Jason’s place without saying another word to him. As soon as she reached her apartment, she called some of her “girls” to break the news. Some told her to not go through with the wedding, others said she should marry him and file for him since she says she loves him, and others said she should report the “deceitful SOB” to the authorities, for his very presence in this country violates Federal Law. That night, Cece lay sleepless in bed with so many unanswered questions: “Who really is Jason? Does he have a wife and children in Ghana? How can he hide information about his immigration status from me for so long? Why did he wait till now that I am so emotionally vested in him to tell me? What are his true motives?”

The next day, Cece went to see her mom for her counsel. Cece told her that Jason was an illegal immigrant, and that he had kept it a secret from her, so due to this lie, she wanted to end it all with him. Without batting an eye, Cece’s mother said thusly, “This is not a big deal, this is not a reason to end a relationship, just marry him and file for him.” With her mouth agape, Cece stared at her mother in awe. Clearly, this is not the reaction Cece was expecting from her mother. Did her mother want her to get married so badly that she would allow her to marry a man she felt she didn’t know that well?

Cece’s mom spoke ad nauseam about how young women of today overanalyze everything, and how she did not know much about her own husband before they got married, yet they had the perfect marriage until he departed from this earth. Cece then retorted, “That was a different era and country, what if I marry him, file for him and then he divorces me after he gets his papers?” Mom responded, “Jason, wo bu neho, wony3 saa!” to wit, “Jason is a self respecting man, he will never do that.” Soon after, Cece left her mom’s house, neither woman budging one bit. When the rest of Cece’s family heard the news, there were mixed reactions: some said Cece should not go through with the marriage; others said she should.

The wedding has now been suspended indefinitely, as Cece is not sure of what to do. Though she no longer trusts Jason, she still loves him, as feelings do not fade overnight. I have heard instances where women filed for their husbands and everything went on without a hitch. I have also heard the horrifying stories of women who filed for their husbands, only for the men to leave them after they got their legal papers. And then there are those stories where the men did not leave after they got their papers; but they did everything they could to frustrate the women, until they, the women, gave up on the marriages. ? So, ladies, “To File Or Not To File” is the question I am asking. If you were in Cece’s shoes, what would you do? Have you been in Cece’s situation before, or do you know of someone who filed for her illegal immigrant husband? If so, what was the outcome? If you have not experienced Cece’s situation, can you still give your "two cents" on the matter anyway? My educated Black Kings out there, I am also interested in your views, so let us hear from you as well.

Lola Washington, DC