As far as James knows, he’s from Plumas County and lives the life of a cowboy. From his old truck to his ranch life, absolutely nothing about the young man says he was born and raised anywhere else than in rural northern California.
But then one day he finds out something a little different. He finds out he wasn’t born here at all — finds out he didn’t move to Plumas County until he was 4 years old. His mother — a woman with little formal education, and definitely not someone with a law background — confesses to him when he goes to get a Social Security card to begin work. She didn’t have any idea they’d stay this long and become tethered to the land so far away from her home.
He’s 17 now and barely remembers anything beyond age 7 and nothing in his baby photos suggests a setting other than where he is now.
James was planning on going to college and had just applied for a part-time job.
And now he’s the victim of circumstance and an arbitrary line that wasn’t always there. Suddenly James —a kid who speaks no other language than English — is being told to get ready for deportation back to his country —a country he’s never seen and doesn’t speak the language of.
This nightmare sci-fi scenario is unfortunately commonplace for many Californian students who find out that they were not born in America.
To the unsavvy, unversed in immigration law casual observer, the solution falls into a couple of categories: 1) Well why not just go to the country of origin? 2) Well why not get one’s papers in order and get to the “back of the line” and do things properly.
All easier said than done. What immigration law, Congress and armchair observers…
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