When Guyanese-born NEIL GOUVEIA immigrated to New York at age 7, his mother made a devastating decision to leave one child behind to expedite the family exodus. Six years later, they became US citizens. Now 39, gay and newly conservative, Gouveia takes a tough, unpopular stance against those who cross the border illegally. He shared his story with The Post’s Susan Edelman.
You’ve heard news about families being separated at the US southern border. Legal immigrants have to deal with separation as well. My mother made her own “Sophie’s Choice.”
In Guyana back in 1986, an immigration officer broke the terrible news. After a three-year wait, my mother, Bassodai Gouveia, arrived at the US embassy in Georgetown to pick up visas for our family of nine to go live in America.
“Mrs. Gouveia, we can’t give you the visas,” he told my mom. “You have a sick child. If you brought her to the United States, it would be a huge government expense. And you can’t abandon her.”
When immigrants apply to come to America, they have to go through a complete physical. My sister, Vera, 9, had cerebral palsy. She couldn’t walk or talk and was mostly bed-bound. But she smiled and laughed. When I got a spanking for misbehaving, I would hug Vera, who was 17 months older than me, for comfort.
My mother walked away from the immigration officer, dejected, then suddenly turned around and went back: “Sir, I have an aunt who can take care of my child while we’re in America,” she told him, fibbing. (She actually had a friend who would look after Vera.)
It tore my mother apart, but she had to make a decision to leave Vera behind — or start the application process all over again. She had to sacrifice Vera to save the American dream for the rest of us — me and five kids from her previous marriage along with my father.
Read the rest at: Real Immigration