What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s post is by Stephanie.

For some time, I have struggled. Do I tell my story or not? I can’t tell you how many times I have written and re-written these words. However, as I sit here, on the eve of the 4th of July…I feel compelled to speak. I miss home. I miss everything about it. I mourn the loss of what I considered would always be my home, my country.

Today, I am living in Brazil. I moved here to be with my husband. When we married in 2008, he was living in the United States undocumented. In 2009, he was deported.

What I want you to know is this…I know it is wrong to live in a place without documents and so does my husband. But you also don’t realize, how truly, amazingly blessed we are to be Americans. I didn’t know. I didn’t realize. I do now. I understand why my husband came here, but that doesn’t mean I condone it. I just wish the consequences were more in line with the action. A 10 year bar was placed on my husband, before he has the right to apply to return to the USA. A bar that was just as effectively been placed on me.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a normal girl. I came from a good family, did well in school, actively involved in church, graduated from Brigham Young University, and have worked from the moment I was able to.

My husband is a good man. Everything I always wanted in a spouse. Loving, christian, ambitious, hard working, family oriented. He did not come to the US to take anything from anyone. He did not want any hand outs for free. He arrived, got a tax id number, and paid taxes on every penny he earned. He did this in hopes that one day, it would count for something.

What I want you to know is…the unknown can be scary. I don’t know in what direction my life will lead. I feel like my right of “pursuit to life, liberty, and happiness”as a citizen has been denied. I feel like the laws should work for me as a citizen. Sometimes I am angry. But mostly, I just miss home, my family.

I am not alone. There are many people with stories like mine. More than I imagined. We fall between the cracks (and there are many, many, grand canyon style cracks) in the immigration system, our voices seldom heard above all the noise. I challenge you to open your hearts. To remember even those without documents, are people. People with hopes, dreams, families, and their own stories. I think you will often find, it is not quite what you think.

My biggest hope is that you will see me as a girl who simply fell in love. I am not unhappy. I am with the man I love. Wherever he is, wherever we go, is where I will call home.