People, almost a year has gone by from my last post to now, a whole year where so much has happened I had a difficult time figuring out where or how to explain the going ons.
One of the only readers I have that isn’t a family member, or personal friend commented on one of my posts saying that she had spent three hours reading my blog on her iPad. My reaction was surprise that someone was still reading my blog and the other was a bashful glow of pride. It feels so damn nice when someone says they enjoy what I write. We writers need constant encouragement and flattery, is food for our soul. Without that constant validation we feel like we are writing crap.
I won’t say what I was doing or where I was when I read the post because I don’t want to get ahead of what is to come, which is an update of my life so far, in the last year since my last post. Which sounds so annoyingly conceited but then self centered-ness is the spirit of a personal blog.
On December 27 of 2011 DH and I got a letter saying our interview for the I-130 (marriage interview) was schedule for January 10, 2012. We were so ecstatic is hard to describe. Finally, finally! I was going to be able to drive, to fly, to have a life, to be a resident. In my mind there was no way anything could go wrong because we are truly married, there is no way they could declare ours not to be a bona fide (in legalese) marriage.
I spent the rest of 2011 panicking about where my original I-94 was (a stub of paper you are supposed to keep when you entry this country) and asking my husband to confirm which way of the bed I slept in, “Do I say left? Because it’s the left if I’m laying on it but the right if I’m standing in front of it, what do you think?” To which he would calmly reply “Relax” which made me lose my shit even more and feel homicidal. How could he be so calm? My stomach was a constant knot and I felt the interview date looming ahead and ruining my new years eve’s party, which is totally unacceptable when you are Hispanic.
We spoke with our lawyer, forked over the two grand for him to drive from Miami to our local USCIS office because our appointment was at the ungodly hour of 7 am. Our lawyer had to be up at the crack of dawn so no way to complain about the fee. I needed him there, I needed him to spout whatever legal shit he was full of and defend my ass if something happened. More than anything I needed him to keep me calm because as he explained to me, I had a deportation order (or as they call it removal proceedings) from another process, and that meant that even if they approved our marriage as a bona fide marriage they could decide to strap an ankle monitor on my cankle until the end of the proceedings.
Now, why after three years of doing everything by the book, taking the legal route since I arrive to this country and being so close to having my residence would I jeopardize that by fleeing to another state to live in the shadows like a criminal? I don’t know. But then I don’t know how much of the immigration system works. I needed my lawyer there because I was afraid that if they came to me with an ankle monitor I would go batshit crazy and assault someone.
The mere idea of wearing that was so offensive to me that my lawyer had to talk me through it for thirty minutes, reminding me how close we were, how by the end of 2012 everything will be solved, how I didn’t want to leave my family, friends and the life I've had for the past ten years. How I really wanted to live here in the U.S. and I wasn't going to get there by refusing their requests.
January 10, 2012 we showed up, sharply dressed, newly polished wedding rings blinding us and ready to roll. They took us in immediately and made us swear to tell the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth and asked us a total of two questions.
“Do you live at this address still?” To which we answered no and provided them with ANOTHER copy of a form we had filed TWO years ago when we moved.
“When did you get married” To which my husband replied 2008 when it was in reality 2009. He corrected himself and said he was nervous. The agent kindly said to him there was nothing He should be worried about. Meaning I was the one in deep shit apparently.
She then stamped our paper saying she knew our marriage to be real (hard to argue when our file was 15 inches tall, full of proves of it).
She mentioned my deportation order and the forms that I was supposed to file, my lawyer chose this moment to pipe in with a reminder that the paperwork had all been filed years ago and the judge and prosecutors were all simply waiting for the USCIS office we were at to give us an interview and confirm our marriage was real.
The agent seemed annoyed at my lawyer’s reminder that they had taken two years and five months to give me an interview date, a process that in average takes four to six months.
In walks another woman who takes possession of my passport (useless anyway because it was expired) and my work permit and license (both also expired) and she says that the deportation order means that I need to be monitored (risky, dangerous person that I am) until and IF a judge decides to reopen my case and dismiss the deportation order. At that point I would be allowed to continue with the process towards my green card.
You could imagine my surprise (even though I was forewarned by my lawyer) that I wouldn’t be walking out of there with a WELCOME stamped my forehead and the expectation of my GC in the mail, but actually with a threat of deportation and an ankle monitor to ruin all my outfits.
It seemed unfathomable to me, that there are child molesters, rapists, robbers and violent ex cons walking freely among society while me, little ol’ me who don’t as much as jay walk or return books late to the library, had to walk around with an ankle monitor.
It wasn’t in house arrest or anything, but the machine apparently would be able to tell if I ever left the State of Florida to which I was now confined.
My lawyer hummed and hawed and complained and they agreed not to “detain me” (for what would they detain me is also beyond me) and one of those lovely I.C.E. agents us illegal immigrants are so fond of came and looked at me. He tried to speak to me in broken Spanish even though he had a Hispanic first and last name. Shame on him, targeting his peeps and doesn’t even speak the language. You would think that if you are going to go against your own people you would at least have the decency to know how to communicate with them in their native language. Race traitor.
My lawyer fumed while they made us wait and he said what they wanted was a reaction from either one of us (dear husband or me) to screw me over. I don’t know if that’s true or not since I refuse to demonize people for doing their bureaucratic job. “They probably expected you to rail and scream and cry” My lawyer said, and checked my face for any trace of…anything. My husband scoffed at the notion of me crying in public.
I could understand him studying me, the more nervous, upset, or angry I am the more my face turns into a mask of utter indifference. I probably looked bored as hell while they threatened me with imprisonment on Krome and ankle monitors and anal probing or whatever. I sat there looking at them as if they were beneath me or as if I was catching a whiff of something unpleasant (which I am sure didn’t help my case any).
I walked out of the USCIS office with a piece of paper that said I was supposed to report to an office a couple of towns south where a contractor to the Immigration Department will outfit me with an ankle monitor for the remainder of the process.
My lawyer looked at me encouragingly, searching for a reaction (don’t know why because he has been my lawyer for ten year and has never gotten anything other than impatience) and rubbing my arm he said “this is good news, your marriage was approved, that’s step one. In July you’ll be vacationing in Cartagena”.
I tried to understand how it can be good news to be treated like a common criminal and a threat to society but said nothing, nodded and got in the car.We drove home in silence while my DH looked at me as if I was a ticking bomb. I sat there contemplating how big the ankle monitor would be and how many pants, jeans and maxi dresses I would have to buy to cover it.