EDITOR’S NOTE: We received a story from a reader named Danny, telling us about his recent interactions with a woman named Lucy. Her name has been changed to protect her from officials at home in Venezuela and immigration officials here in the United States. Danny is worried about her safety, telling us he does not want the Venezuelan military, who are arresting young men as “traitors of the military,” to apprehend Lucy. Danny still wants his story told. Here is his story.
My name is Danny, and this is my story of love and pain.
It’s simple. I am a 51-year-old disabled firefighter; I am retired. I had met a wonderful girl on Tinder, from Venezuela. It was late November 2016. I was in Chicago.
I had been sitting in my house, doing nothing for three years, so I decided I would try swipes on Tinder. I thought, “I could get a little excitement in my life.” You know? Go dance, blah, blah, blah. I never once thought I would fall in love. A beautiful, classy woman. She didn’t know English.
Her face came by me. I couldn’t resist. I immediately swiped. She replied—she wrote in Spanish. I smiled. A day later, she contacted me. I asked for her phone number and called her.
Her cousins, it turns out, were on the South Side. I drove out there, and we met at a McDonald’s. It was the only place we both knew in the area. I asked her if she would like to eat at nine in the evening. What can you eat on the South Side at 9?! Not much.
Luckily, I found a little Italian place, and we settled in. I helped her sit down, and went to my seat, but she grabbed my wrist. She pointed at the chair, her perfume wafting through the air, she wanted me to sit. The gesture was beautiful, one of those moments where your heart is won.
It was wonderful, but, there was still the language barrier. We used a translator app. I suggested we pretend were deaf. We couldn’t understand each other anyways. She laughed hard. It was genuine and lovely.
After managing to get through the worst Italian food in Chicago, I remembered the conversation. She had immeasurable sadness, her country was up in arms.
I asked myself, “What did I know about Venezuela?” A retired baseball player in Carlos Zambrano, and a manager, Ozzie Guillen. Those two were nuts. What was the political system? Communism? Their leader, Hugo Chavez? It was quite the opposite from what I thought I had known.
We continued to date, and she had moved in before she had to go back to Venezuela. We had spent Christmas and New Year’s together. I invited her back. I paid for her tickets to return. She had wanted to respect the law. I respected that. At the time, I had still not fully grasped what was going on in Venezuela.
All I knew was that I really liked this girl. I started to learn Spanish (it would’ve came in handy on the firetruck…) for when, and if, she returned. She went home, and after three months, she came back. We talked every day for those three months.
It was understood that, once she returned to the States, she’d call me upon her arrival to Miami, and she’d visit me in Chicago. I planned on driving the old Route 66 with her, enjoying the sights. Laugh. Ease her mind, help her forget about the terrible crimes committed in her country.
On the day Trump’s controversial “travel ban” was returned after a being challenged in court, my phone rang.
It was Immigration.
“This is Officer Ortiz, from Immigration.”
“Yes. HEY! Are you calling about Lucy? Yes, she is coming to my house.”
“What is she doing, going there for work?”
“What? What do you mean? Does she need a job to come here?! I can get her one at my buddy’s restaurant.”
Then I realized, no, she doesn’t need a job. She can’t work. She has a travel visa.
The Immigration official started acting like an idiot. I told him I was a firefighter in Chicago, I pleaded, I asked for professional courtesy. This was a good woman, just coming for a visit. I invited her and paid for the trip. Then, the official asked, “Are you going to marry her?” I told him “No, are you crazy?! I am not getting married.”
He hung up. Six hours later, I received another call, Lucy had been sent back to Venezuela. I couldn’t believe it. I yelled. I was distraught.
I had lived emotionally through Lucy, we texted each day. I grew concerned for her health. She doesn’t eat. She tells me she goes to bed hungry, she tells me she drinks water to fill her stomach on most nights.
Our country is supposed to be a country of open arms. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, my uncle had worked for Immigration. It was wartime. He was German. The country has always allowed people in with open arms. That, is what I think America is, or rather, what it should be.
I know this, I love Lucy. I never want anyone else but Lucy in my life. She’s my age, and I just respect her so much. I am at the point where I need to contact my state representative, my congressman, my senator. Hopefully, they write letters to me. I need them to reply.
They stamped Lucy’s visa, it said “cancelled, MIA,” with no date stamped. Lucy had that visa since she was 15, and never received any trouble, until now. Now, at 51, Lucy had her visa cancelled? Our country must accept refugees from Venezuela.
I wrote what I can. I am not going back and reading it. I have been through too much already daily with worry. If you could help me get a K-1 (a visa where a foreign citizen must marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days, or depart), so I can marry her, that’d be great.
There’s more to this story. It’d best be done with a reporter in an interview. Or, pitched as a reality television show.