By Nina Mold
In the 1950s, my home city, Manchester, England, was still recovering from the war. Some food staples were still rationed and many buildings were yet to be rebuilt.
In the spring of 1960, my mother brought my 10-year-old sister and me to America where she would marry her U.S. Marine boyfriend.
To my eight-year-old eyes, it was as if someone had flipped a switch that turned the world from black and white to color.
There were supermarkets with doors that opened by themselves, bubble gum machines, TVs, cartoons, refrigerators, showers, Coca Cola, chocolate milk, drive-in restaurants, drive-in movies, outdoor swimming pools, huge cars, neon signs, fabulous weather, no school uniforms, the list is endless. To a child who knew nothing except the grim, industrial north of post-war England, it was a magical wonderland, and I fell instantly in love.
I returned to England at age 16 when my mother and stepfather got divorced. All through my life since then, including two marriages, four children and a 20-year career in corrections, I was sustained by the dream of one day returning to my beloved America to live out my days.
After my mother-in-law died in 2002, there was no longer any reason for us to stay in England. The dream I had held in my heart for so long had somehow planted itself into my husband and our two young daughters. Together, we decided to start a new life in America, and started to explore our options. The greatest adventure of our lives was about to begin, and I felt that, at long last, I was coming home.
We quickly learned that, without a relative to sponsor us, the only way we could live and work in America legally was through investment. We proceeded to sell everything we owned and bought a small business in Naples. We started out with six employees and now have eleven. Unfortunately, our E2 visas will never lead to citizenship, and we must constantly renew our visa in order to stay, but half a dream is better than none at all.
From the beginning, our elder daughter, Stephanie, then 14, embraced the American belief that, if you work hard, you can be whatever you want to be. She threw herself into high school life, achieving excellent grades, lettering in track and soccer, and getting involved in all aspects of drama, communications and community service.
At Florida Gulf Coast University, Stephanie continues to maintain high grades. She is also Senator for Arts and Science on the student government, co-president of the GSA (membership has quadrupled under her leadership), served as director of Multicultural Relations, has competed several leadership courses, chaired conferences and successfully organized events to raise funds and awareness.
Now my smart and beautiful daughter is about to graduate with honors from university, but all her hard work and motivation will come to nothing, and she will have to return to England if she cannot secure an internship relevant to her English degree. It’s a tragedy for America that young high achievers from abroad must struggle so hard to stay and contribute to the economy after completing their education. It’s also a tragedy for families like mine, who have abided by the laws of the land and created employment for Americans, that we are unable to keep our families together.
Mold is the owner of Top Performance Hair, Nails & Spa in North Naples. She is a co-founder of E2visareform.org, an organization which campaigns for changes to E2 regulations that would create a path to permanent residence (green cards) for foreign nationals who invest in businesses here and create jobs for Americans. Email her at email@example.com; this is from her blog, Immigration Reformer, at naplesnews.com/blogs