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                                                                                                                                Un tema que suscita muchas dudas y controversia es precisamente la Reclamación de Familiares que residen en Cuba o en cualquier otro país. Muchas personas que desean realizar los trámites pertinentes desconocen las particularidades de este proceso y ello constituye una de las causas por las que en múltiples ocasiones son denegadas las peticiones.

En otros artículos hemos abordado esta temática pero en esta ocasión intentaremos resumir la información acerca del tema y de este modo aclarar muchas interrogantes.
El Gobierno de los Estados Unidos otorga anualmente alrededor de 226 000 visas de inmigrantes mediante las peticiones a familiares, siendo ésta la vía más común para reunificar la familia bajo el estatus legal. Las peticiones familiares se clasifican en dos grandes categorías:
1-Familiares Inmediatos: Este grupo no dependen de la disponibilidad de visas, cuotas o porcentajes anuales para viajar a los Estados Unidos. Los visados a dichos familiares son otorgados rápidamente por USCIS. Son considerados como Familiares Inmediatos:

◊ Esposos(as) y Viudos(as) de ciudadanos americanos.
◊ Hijos(as) menores de 21 años, solteros, de un ciudadano americano.
◊Padres de ciudadanos americanos, si el hijo/hija es mayor de 21 años.
◊ Hijos(as) adoptivos de ciudadanos americanos siempre y cuando los hijos(as) sean adoptados antes de que hayan cumplido 16 años.
◊ Hijastros(as) (menores de 21 años) o padrastros/madrastras de ciudadanos americanos siempre y cuando la relación hijastro(a)/padrastro haya sido establecida antes de que el/la hijastro(a) haya cumplido 18 años.

 2- Familiares Preferenciales: Estos se agrupan por prioridades. Deben tener una petición formulada y esperar a que el USCIS determine la disponibilidad de visas de residentes, antes de que una les sea otorgada. La lista de espera generalmente tarda muchos años debido a que existe un número limitado de visas disponibles anualmente, incluso la disponibilidad por países es reducida. Los Familiares Preferenciales se agrupan de acuerdo a las prioridades siguientes:

◊ 1ra Preferencia: Hijos(as) de ciudadanos americanos, solteros y mayores de 21 años. Actualmente existe una cuota anual de 23,400 visas y la lista de espera es de más o menos 2 años.
◊ 2da Preferencia:
Segunda Preferencia (A): Esposos(as) e hijos(as) de residentes permanentes.
Segunda Preferencia (B): Hijos(as) mayores de 21 años de residentes permanentes, siempre y cuando sean solteros. La cuota anual para esta categoría es de 114,200 visas y la lista de espera es de 4 años para la Segunda Preferencia A y de 7 años para la Segunda Preferencia B.
◊ 3ra Preferencia: Hijos(as) de ciudadanos americanos, casados y mayores de 21 años. La cuota anual es de 23,400 visas y la lista de espera es de más o menos 3 años.
◊ 4ta Preferencia: Hermanos(as) de ciudadanos americanos, siempre y cuando el ciudadano sea mayor de 21 años. La cuota anual es de 65,000 visas y la lista de espera es de más o menos 10 años.

 Es importante señalar que los residentes permanentes solamente pueden peticionar a sus hijos solteros(de cualquier edad) y cónyuges. En tanto que los ciudadanos estadounidenses pueden reclamar a sus cónyuges e hijos de este solteros y menores de 21 años, hijos, padres, hermanos y prometido(a)


In this series of four blog posts celebrating Public Service Recognition Week, we honor the dedication of USCIS employees who fulfill the USCIS mission of securing America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.
By Ben Rubenstein
"Growing up, I never knew that life existed outside of the 48-mile radius of Eldorado, Texas," says Maribel (Mary) Gonzalez, an immigration services officer at the Texas Service Center in Dallas.
In fact, the city of Eldorado itself, the county seat of Schleicher County in southwest Texas, fills just a tiny part of that radius. Her 1982 graduating class had been the largest in her high school’s history – 48 students. Her mother worked at the Eldorado Woolen Mill, which was the oldest mill in the southwest U.S. before it shut down. Her grandmother canned her own vegetables and made her own jam and candy.

Gonzalez with her daughter Marina and son Isaiah. Gonzalez says they “are the reason I still continue to do my best.”

In a population of barely 2,000, Gonzalez knew everyone, and everyone knew her and her parents and six siblings. “I always found that environment appealing,” she says. “I got a lot of benefits growing up in a small town.”

She still goes home – Eldorado is a five-hour drive from Dallas – for the annual World Championship Goat Cook Off in nearby Brady, Texas. "A lot of people, when they don’t know how to describe goat, will say it tastes like chicken. No, it doesn’t. It has its own distinct flavor."

Gonzalez (left) with friend Joe at the World Championship Goat Cook Off on Sept. 6, 2015. More than 200 teams seasoned and smoked the goat meat and competed for trophies, cash and bragging rights. The event also featured art vendors, a street dance, and the Goat Gallop, a fun run and walk – and a healthy sense of humor, according to Gonzalez.

She tried to make sure her two children, a 21-year-old daughter named Marina and a 23-year-old son named Isaiah, connected with small-town life. They appreciate southwest Texas, she says, but prefer Big D.

After high school, Gonzalez enrolled in a commercial college in nearby San Angelo, Texas. She recalls the admissions employee asking to see her Green Card. Gonzalez, born in Texas, had no idea what that was, so she responded, "I don't have an American Express card, I’m paying with a check."

Her friend displayed her Green Card, but Gonzalez still had no idea what it meant.

Gonzalez later joined the Army. That's when she saw that life existed outside of the 48-mile radius of Eldorado. For starters, she got to see Dallas for the first time (and still remembers how congested it looked by comparison.)

Gonzalez (right) with private first class Campbell while working with the Pershing missile system in Germany in 1987.

She scored well on the military aptitude test. The recruiter from San Angelo asked if she wanted to work on computers. "Yes," she said, figuring she’d learn skills that would be useful later in civilian life. The recruiter, she adds, didn't mention that the computers were part of the Pershing missile system.

Gonzalez served as an electronic material specialist in Germany for almost six years. When the Cold War ended, the military needed fewer missile operators, so she became an accounting specialist for the next four years in Fort Benning, Georgia.

After her military service, Gonzalez visited the Texas Workforce Commission to learn about employment opportunities. While in the waiting room, she overheard a woman who was also there looking for work and struggling to communicate in English. The woman looked to her for help. Gonzalez – better at speaking Spanish than translating it – did her best.

Gonzalez in a cotton field in Eldorado in October 2013, teasing her boyfriend that his home state of Missouri may have corn but hers has cotton and football.

A contractor whose company worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (an agency that existed before the Department of Homeland Security was created) overheard the woman asking Gonzalez to translate, and then asked if she would consider applying for his company. Gonzalez did and received an offer a few months later. A year after that, she became a federal employee.

Including her time in the military, Gonzalez recently reached 30 years of serving her country.

She’s held many positions at USCIS. Of course, she now knows what a Green Card is. She says she also understands why so many people want to come here and live the American dream.

From left, sisters Geral, Christy, Gonzalez and Georgie in May 2015 on the one-year anniversary of their mother’s death, at the small cemetery where their family members are buried. Gonzalez says that’s where she wants her ashes spread. “Everything I knew and wanted was within 48 miles of Eldorado, and even though I came from a family of humble means, I had everything.”

"I am living that dream," she says. "I fell into this career by chance and it has been a blessing. When I helped that lady that day I had no idea what that gesture would mean in my life and the opportunities it would lead to. I never saw that lady again. I’m hoping she got the job I helped her with."

Automatic Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants’ Children? 

In recent months, there has been increasing support for immigration reform for children of undocumented immigrants. Recently, President Obama created a new policy which ensures that qualified young children of undocumented immigrants will be safe from deportation and can even apply for legal work authorization. However, some legislators oppose policies which would offer status for undocumented immigrants and their children. Most recently, Republican Senate Candidate Christopher Shays has stated that he opposes automatic citizenship for children born to undocumented parents in the US. Citizenship by birthright has been protected by the 14th Amendment since 1868, but Shays has supported eight bills which would take away automatic birthright citizenship for babies born to undocumented immigrants.

In fact, Shays has talked about a so-called “blue card,” or a new immigration status which would give undocumented immigrants the right to work and travel in the US and would obligate them to pay taxes and Social Security but would ensure that they never qualify for naturalization.
Shays has received strong support from groups who have been fighting undocumented immigration. According to Shays, the current automatic US citizenship granted to all persons born in the US creates a problem by giving undocumented immigrants an incentive to have children in the US, since once those children are 18 they can sponsor their parents for citizenship. Other experts, however, point out that children need to be 21 to sponsor their parents for citizenship and if those parents are in the country illegally, they would need to leave the US for at least ten years in order to get legal status and citizenship through their children.

According to immigration advocacy groups, birth tourism involves only a small percentage of people, most of whom enter the US legally in order to give birth to children. Some groups believe that the number of undocumented immigrants would rise substantially if Shays and others succeeded in ensuring that automatic birthright citizenship were repealed. Since all children born to undocumented immigrants would also be undocumented under the new laws, they and their children would continue to have no status, over generations.

Some legislators in some states have proposed two classes of birth certificates – one for legal citizens and residents and one for undocumented parents.  Rep. Steve King in Iowa, for example, has proposed the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011, which would allow only some children born in the US to enjoy instant US citizenship. Children who were not born to US parents or people with legal status in the US would not qualify for citizenship by birthright under the legislation.

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Juramento que trasciende tiempo y fronteras


Dicen que el amor todo lo puede. Don Jorge García y a doña Rafael Maradiaga de García son un ejemplo de todo lo que puede lograr una pareja cuando el amor rige sus vidas. Jorge, de 93 años de edad y Rafaela, de 92, han sabido enfrentar juntos la vida con valentía y perseverancia, lo que les ha llevado a vencer grandes obstáculos. Hoy, disfrutan de lo que según Rafaela es una nueva bendición: su ciudadanía estadounidense.

Natural de Puerto Cortés en Honduras, Rafaela Maradiaga emigró a Guatemala siendo aún niña. Fue en la capital guatemalteca que conoció a quien es hoy su esposo. “Fue un amor a primera vista. Desde ese 2 de febrero de 1946 no nos hemos separado”, comenta haciendo referencia al momento en que conoció a Jorge, quien es natural de Retalhuleu, Guatemala. “Bailamos y bailamos; bailando me dijo que sería su novia para toda la vida” añade.

Jorge y Rafaela tomando el Juramento de Lealtad
Jorge y Rafaela tomando el Juramento de Lealtad

Desde jóvenes fueron muy responsables y trabajadores. Rafaela trabajaba en una fábrica para pagar la renta de la casa donde vivía con su madre de crianza; Jorge trabajaba en una tabacalera.

El deseo de estar siempre juntos les llevó hasta la iglesia de San Felipe de Jesús de La Antigua Guatemala, al pie del Volcán de Agua, donde Jorge se le declaró y juraron “amarse para toda la vida”.

Su relación no era bien vista por la madre de crianza de Rafaela, quien se había encargado de ella desde que quedó huérfana a los dieciséis años. “Si nos veía juntos, nos tiraba piedras y con sus termos, sobre todo a Jorge”, comenta Rafaela. Pero eso hizo fortalecer su amor.

“Nunca dejamos de disfrutar nuestra vida”, comenta Jorge. “Hubo momentos buenos y momentos difíciles, pero siempre fuimos agradecidos a la vida, y siempre sacamos una vez al año para disfrutar frente a la playa”.

Rafaela y Jorge tuvieron trece hijos pero sólo seis sobrevivieron. El último parto fue de gemelos, cuando Rafaela tenía 47 años.

Mantenerse unidos ha sido siempre el norte para esta pareja. La única vez que se han separado fue cuando Rafaela viajó por primera vez a Estados Unidos en el año 1989 para cuidar de su primer nieto, el primogénito de su hijo mayor Jorge Rafael y de Judith García, quienes habían emigrado hacía unos años. “Fueron tres meses de ausencia, tres meses de pena” recuerda don Jorge.

Él y Rafaela tuvieron la oportunidad de emigrar a Estados Unidos en 1989. “Jorge se perdió el día que llegó al aeropuerto y tuvimos que salir a buscarlo. No sé cómo se las arregló para conseguir un teléfono y llamar a la casa”, cuenta Rafaela destacando la perseverancia de su marido.

Adaptarse a una nueva vida en este país ha sido un reto. “Nunca pensé que podría hablar otro idioma, sobre todo a esta edad, y poco a poco he aprendido y he podido comunicarme adecuadamente”, señala don Jorge con gran satisfacción, destacando que emigró siendo ya mayor.

No obstante, ambos coinciden que su mayor satisfacción ha sido poder convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses, lo que lograron el pasado 12 de febrero de 2014 en una ceremonia de naturalización en Los Ángeles. “Estoy muy agradecido de este bendito país que nos ha recibido” comentó. Rafaela añade: “Es una alegría que va a perdurar para siempre. Es una bendición. Recibir esa bandera pequeñita es muy significativo. Es pequeña en tamaño, pero es inmenso el mérito que lleva. Lloré al recibirla”.

Don Jorge García muestra orgulloso su Certificado de Naturalización. A su lado doña Rafaela Maradiaga de García. Le acompañan sus familiares.
Don Jorge García muestra orgulloso su Certificado de Naturalización. A su lado doña Rafaela Maradiaga de García. Le acompañan sus familiares.

Jorge y Rafaela dicen que tomar este gran paso les ayudará a disfrutar de su vida a plenitud. “En esta etapa de nuestra vida seguimos juntos”, dice Jorge, “pero estamos más contentos porque logramos lo que más queríamos que era hacernos ciudadanos”. 

Oath that transcends time and borders
They say that love can do everything.


Don Jorge Garcia and Donna Rafael Maradiaga de García are an example of all that a couple can achieve when love rules their lives. Jorge, 93 years old and Rafaela, 92, have been able to face life together with courage and perseverance, which has led them to overcome great obstacles. Today, they enjoy what Rafaela says is a new blessing: her American citizenship.

Born in Puerto Cortes in Honduras, Rafaela Maradiaga emigrated to Guatemala as a child. It was in the Guatemalan capital that she met her husband today. "It was love at first sight. Since February 2, 1946 we have not separated, "he said referring to the moment he met Jorge, who is a native of Retalhuleu, Guatemala. "We danced and danced; Dancing told me he would be his girlfriend for life "he adds.


From young people they were very responsible and hardworking. Rafaela worked in a factory to pay the rent of the house where she lived with her foster mother; Jorge worked in a tobacco company.

The desire to be always together led them to the church of San Felipe de Jesus of Antigua Guatemala, at the foot of the Water Volcano, where Jorge was declared and vowed to "love one another for life."

Their relationship was not well regarded by Rafaela's foster mother, who had taken care of her since she was orphaned at the age of sixteen. "If he saw us together, he threw stones at us and with his terms, especially Jorge," says Rafaela. But that made his love stronger.

"We never stop enjoying our life," says Jorge. "There were good times and difficult times, but we were always grateful to life, and we always get out once a year to enjoy the beach."

Rafaela and Jorge had thirteen children but only six survived. The last birth was for twins, when Rafaela was 47 years old.

Staying together has always been the north for this couple. The only time they separated was when Rafaela first traveled to the United States in 1989 to take care of her first grandchild, the eldest son of his eldest son Jorge Rafael and Judith Garcia, who had emigrated a few years ago. "There were three months of absence, three months of grief," recalls Don Jorge.

He and Rafaela had the opportunity to emigrate to the United States in 1989. "Jorge got lost the day he arrived at the airport and we had to go get him. I do not know how she managed to get a phone and call the house, "says Rafaela emphasizing the perseverance of her husband.

Adapting to a new life in this country has been a challenge. "I never thought I could speak another language, especially at this age, and little by little I learned and I was able to communicate properly," says Don Jorge with great satisfaction, emphasizing that he emigrated as he grew older.

However, both agree that their greatest satisfaction has been to become US citizens, which they achieved on February 12, 2014 at a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles. "I am very grateful for this blessed country that has received us," he said. Rafaela adds: "It is a joy that will last forever. It's a blessing. Receiving that little flag is very significant. It is small in size, but the merit it carries is immense. I cried when I received it. "


Jorge and Rafaela say that taking this great step will help them to enjoy their life to the fullest. "At this stage of our life we are together," says Jorge, "but we are happier because we achieved what we wanted to become citizens."
Oath that transcends time and borders