Immigration Reform: Up Close and Personal in SW Kansas

Aug 12, 2013

Mexican immigrant Cornelius Peters is consoled by his immigration lawyer Michael Feltman after finding out his father had just died in Mexico. Peters has been working on becoming a resident for 13 years but, in the meantime, couldn’t visit his family in Mexico.
Mexican immigrant Cornelius Peters is consoled by his immigration lawyer Michael Feltman after finding out his father had just died in Mexico. Peters has been working on becoming a resident for 13 years but, in the meantime, couldn’t visit his family in Mexico.
Credit Fernando Salaza / The Wichita Eagle

People value hard work in SW Kansas.  In an area where the unemployment rate is significantly below the national average, workers are needed.  The Wichita Eagle gave a glimpse into the struggles of being an immigrant.   

Cornelius Peters came from Mexico to build a better life for his family.  His grandparents moved from Canada to Mexico to preserve their traditions and live on their own terms.  Peters followed their example, moving to southwest Kansas on a work visa, to an area where many other Mennonite families had already established themselves.  Over ten years ago, he came in hopes of finding a job that would support his family, and to leave the drug cartel territory behind. 

Cornelius Peters doesn’t speak Spanish, has a Canadian accent, and his six kids don’t understand Mexico or its culture.  His family lives under a cloud of uncertainty.  Peters, with the help of his attorney, Michael Feltman, are fighting his case for citizenship on the grounds his child would face unusual and exceptional hardships if her father were forced out of the country.

Peters hopes for a bill like the one the Senate approved.  One that would allow immigrants, like him, a chance to become citizens.  For Cornelius Peters, that law would be too late in some ways.  While sharing his story, he received a call saying his father had passed away.  He hadn’t seen him since he left Mexico.  He won’t attend the funeral for fear of jeopardizing his case. 

To read more about the High Plains side of immigration and Peter’s story go here.