Just when you think things are solved, just when you think you have done everything that needs to be done and dotted all your i’s and crossed all the t’s, something comes along to remind you that no matter how prepared you are, you are never prepared enough when it comes to the immigration process in the U.S.
We showed up at our appointment, eager to get this out of the way. My stomach was killing me, I felt like I needed to throw up and it was 112 degrees outside and the AC in the car couldn’t keep up with the heat and I was all rumpled and sweaty and nervous and desperate for this to finally be over.
I got hit on by the cops who guard the location (they always do that) and walked through a Citizenship ceremony, feeling jealous and annoyed it wasn’t me (in other words I was all full of piss and vinegar). The agent called us into her office five minutes after our appointment time. We stood in her office surrounded by pictures of Colombia and coffee bags and Colombian candies in a dish and I wanted to ask her why she had to look so bitchy when we were compatriots. I held my tongue and swore to say the truth and nothing but the truth, amen.
She begun by asking me questions regarding my deportation order “The deportation order was dismissed” I replied. “By whom?” She asked. “The Immigration Judge in Miami who saw us on June 21st” I replied. As it happened she didn’t have a copy of the Judge’s decision and she wasn’t aware the order had been dismissed. “How can you not have it? I mean isn’t that why you guys called me here to complete the process? Without that order being dismissed you couldn’t have send me a letter to finish the process” I replied flabbergasted.
“Do you have a copy of the order with you?” She asked.
“No, I brought with me what the letter you sent asked me to bring” I replied fury escalating like boiling water and spilling into my voice. DH took a hold of my hand in an attempt to calm me down. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, trying to erase the image of me jumping across the desk to choke her, out of my head.
How is it possible that the Immigration J made a decision, that decision propelled the local USCIS to send me a letter to finish my process and yet they had no record of the actual decision being made?! On top of it all they also didn’t have a copy of the receipt for the original I-485 when it was filed three fucking years ago.
“So, let me see if I understand. You don’t have the original receipt of the I-485 being filed, even though you are interviewing me now for said I-485, and you don’t have a copy of the Immigration Judge’s decision to terminate my deportation, even though without it I wouldn’t have been summoned here either?” I asked trying to understand her logic. How in the fuck had I gotten an interview then, since according to their files I hadn’t applied for the interview in the first place? I shouldn’t even be granted one since I was still in “removal proceedings” since they hadn’t seen a copy of the Judge’s decision.
“We have different people putting the files together, someone must have misfiled yours” She said without a note of apology in her voice, as if it was completely acceptable to be that damned fucking stupid and that disorganized, as if this “minor snafu” wasn’t affecting my life and it was just a tiny inconvenience.
We suggested to drive to our house and get the paperwork for her since I had a copy of all of it, I just had assumed (dumb fuck that I am) that they would have their files in order and we brought simply what the letter requested me to bring. I handed her the sealed medical paperwork while I tried to breathe through my nose to calm myself and avoid making a scene. She said No. Just that, NO. Dry and uncompromising. She then said she would send a letter requesting extra information from us. More time to wait for them to get their shit together. I sighed in desperation.
I have done everything, EVERYTHING they have asked of me, I have paid all the fees they wanted me to pay, paid taxes, I allowed them to treat me like a criminal even though I am a law abiding individual that has followed all the proper channels and other than bending over and holding my ankles I have done all they’ve wanted. Is it too much to ask for the courtesy of their ability to keep shit straight? I am required to go above and beyond and they aren’t required to even keep my file up to date and organized?
She then asked me: “Have you ever, hurt, tortured or prosecuted someone based on their sex, race, and religion?” I turned around to look at DH surprised by the question.
“Have you ever belonged to a Communist Party?”
“Do you have ties to any terrorist groups?”
“No” I hate to point out the obvious, but has anyone being asked these questions ever answers yes? I mean if they are terrorists and torture people based on religious, race or gender differences don’t they lack the moral compass to simply lie if they are asked?
She then asked me if I wanted to keep my maiden last name or change it to my husband’s. Now, I have never planned on changing my name, I adore my DH but my name shall always be my name, is my family name, he and I are family but the bonds of blood between me and my last name are stronger than those bonds of legal matrimony. I don’t see our union as a holy union where we become one, or whatever. I see it as a conscious, emotional and legal decision to tie our fates together because we love each other and choose not to live without each other. I respect everyone’s decision to take their husband’s or wife’s name, it wouldn’t be a decision I made.
I still had to reply “I’ll hyphenate it” It didn’t seem the most appropriate place to start spouting feminist reasons as to why I wanted to keep my name.
Time was running out, she was required to go a meeting and either feeling pity for my situation or taking responsibility for their disorganization she gave us an hour and half to go home, retrieve the paperwork they didn’t have and bring it to them. We live a ten minute drive from them. Haleluyah!! A practical decision to a solvable problem. Color me surprised!
We rushed home, me cursing the whole way there and back. We handed our paperwork in, she smiled, thanked us and said:
“We’ll try to process this as soon as possible. You will hear from us shortly”
After almost four years of immigration process, after being treated like a criminal, after witnessing their disorganization and lack of common sense, her words seemed trite and insulted my intelligence. At least be honest with me, don’t give my false hope, don’t tell me this will be taken care of in a speedy way.
DH and I drove back home, trying to answer all the questions our well intentioned and loving family had. It was frustrating and sad that we couldn’t assure them it was all over.