When my daughter Letitia was born on April 11, 2021, I wasn’t there to greet her. I’d done everything in my power to make it happen — sought help from lawyers and even appealed to the U.S State Department. But when my fiancé Sarah went into labor, I was thousands of miles away in Kenya, barred from entering the United States. Why? Because of the delays in the American immigration system. Cases like ours rarely make the news, but they affect many families and cause needless suffering for Americans and their loved ones.
Sarah is an American citizen, and I am a Kenyan national. We first met in 2017, while working with the Africa Yoga Project. I was teaching yoga in Nairobi when Sarah arrived as a volunteer and we stayed in touch loosely for the coming year. To our surprise we saw each other a year and a half later and then kept crossing paths. With hesitation due to the distance and our different backgrounds, we fell in love. We started a long-distance relationship late 2018. In 2019 I visited her on a tourist visa and Sarah returned to visit me. We got engaged in October 2019. Five months later, Sarah was visiting Nairobi when the pandemic began. She became trapped in the country for seven months, but happily so. Our relationship flourished, and in August 2021, we learned we’d be having a baby.