Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Yea, We Should Just Build That Fence Already"

Okay, so Pyramid Man has been having a few more (mis)adventures, which will be forthcoming. However, since my Groomeo has been spending much of his time this week working on assignments for the three art classes he's taking--and also hours and hours painting our upstairs hallway (that area is the final domino that toppled during the kitchen remodel and is in the process of being stood up again...once we finish the painting, including the stairs that lead to our second floor, we'll have a new runner installed, and then, Poodles? We's DONE!)--well, he hasn't had much leisure cartooning time. The sub-story here has to do, clearly, with the fact that he's not spending enough time in the bathroom to doodle on the easel as he's doodling in the toilet. I'll feed my man Fiber One for dinner tonight, and Pyramid Man will be back to befuddlement in no time.

Moreover, because I am all about following every biblical edict (I don't eat pork, nor do I trim the corners of my beard, nor do I braid my hair [rot in hell, Bo Derek]), I try to be a help meet to my husband. This week, that means I volunteer to help paint the trim and the five doors that ring our hallways, and then I kind of get that white paint in all sorts of places it wasn't supposed to go, and after a bunch of unsightly drips start taking over the banister and I cry a little bit, I offer to go empty the dishwasher.

The upshot is that I'm paint-covered and tear-stained (although my glassware is spotless), which means I haven't been the blogger I (and God; remember the edict in Revelations that dictates, "Thou shalt publish to your blog at least twice weekly and visit the blogs of thy neighbors, lest ye be hobbled by an angry computer virus"?) would like me to be.

Fortunately, I have this lesbian friend named Kirsten. The fact that she's a lesbian is only pertinent here because I met her when she married one of The Galpals of My Life, a woman named Virginia. Without the lovely lesbians, I would have no Kirsten, so praise Jesus that the bible fully supports their love!

Anyhoodle, Kirsten's life labels are not only restricted to "lesbian"--she's also funny and compassionate and Canadian. That she's Canadian is the basis of the article below, which she wrote for the Austin (MN) Human Rights Commission a few weeks ago. Although Kirsten and Virginia live in Minnesota, theirs is clearly not a Green Card/citizenship marriage (Duh. The U.S. not only sucks with its health care and immigration procedures, it also smacks down gay and lesbian marriage, and I think we can all see that I'm about to launch into a really unpleasant middle class white liberal rant, so I'll stop now. But just one more thing before I cuddle up with the ghosts of Martin Luther King, Paul Wellstone, and Seymour Hersh: don't you think everyone should have at least one home before anybody has two? Yes. Yes. My work here is done):
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Here, then, is Kirsten's story:


I'm just a girl wanting to live in the United States...

I have been thinking a lot in the past weeks about my journey...my immigration journey. In 1990, I left Canada and joined a theatre company located in the Unites States. I worked with them for 5 years. Maintaining status while working for this entity was always a challenge, but the company did the work, tracked my status, giving me the luxury of not really having to worry much about coming and going to and from Canada. After my 5 years on tour, I decided to pursue my degree and did so here in the US. As a student, once again, maintaining status was relatively easy. While in grad school (7 years later) the true work began. I had an agency wanting to hire me and they were willing to file for an H1B temporary work visa for me. I received my visa and began work in spring of 2001. Getting a Green Card was the goal. The agency hired an immigration lawyer and the work began.

My H1B turned into a second and then a third...the costs mounting with lawyer fees and filing fees and more filing fees. My favorite of these fees (NOT) were those asked for from the Department of Homeland Security to expedite requests. Twice, the visas were not processed on time (the date in which the US is required to respond by). Upon inquiring, TWICE, we were told that they would expedite the request (do what was already theirs to do) for an additional fee of $1000....INFURIATING. We paid! And waited...waited...waited.

In 2006, my lawyer told me that it could be another 3 years...that I was in a backlog of 750,000 people. But that one day, he would call saying that the window had opened and that I would be allowed to make my final application for permanent residency. I did not have to wait 3 more years. In March 2007, the window opened. It was open for a VERY short time and during that time I needed to complete a mountain of paper work and get a physical done. This was not as easy as one would expect. I made 26 phone calls to Civil Surgeons throughout the state of Minnesota before finding one that would see me in time to beat the deadline. I was tested for every communicable disease known to man. I found myself joking with the Doctor while these tests were being completed. By this time I had been in the US for 12 years and any disease found through these tests would have been things I contracted here in the US. I also needed to be fingerprinted and have my "mugshot" taken. I say mugshot because the process, location and staff for this part of the process was very sterile...in fact the woman taking my prints did not smile...did not speak...except to give instructions and corrections. this place and the people working there were civil but not friendly...as I watched others I decided it was even unkind...and certainly un-welcoming!

Anyway...I made the deadline and once again found myself waiting....waiting...waiting. On March 25, 2008 (March 25th is my birthday by the way) I received word that my Green Card had been issued and that it was coming. In the meantime I was travelling to Canada and had to make a trip to immigration services in the Cities on my way out to receive a stamp in my passport allowing me to travel. This stamp was in essence a temporary green card. When I arrived, I was welcomed...I was congratulated...I was smiled at...

I am a white girl from Canada (who speaks English) who wanted to live in the US...I am still 3-4 years from being able to apply for citizenship. To date, between fees paid by me, by my sponsoring agency and those fees waived by an incredible law firm, the cost has exceeded $30,000.00. It has been 9 years...I am through the hardest part, of course, but continue to wait...continue to wait. I think about my counterparts...the others trying to make their way through this system...I speak the language, am educated and had the financial support of an employer and a kind hearted lawyer who waived thousands in fees and in this process, this journey, I am challenged...I am frustrated...I have felt cheated...I felt un-welcomed and un-wanted. Oh what the others must feel...

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Kirsten also provided this link, which is to a really wonderful chart that lays out the process:

http://www.advancingequality.org/attachments/files/201/Immigration_Chart.pdf

17 comments:

Casdok said...

How incredibly frustrating and expensive. Hope the Human Rights commission are taking notes.

Chantal said...

I can't even imagine what it would be like for someone claiming refugee status. Oh my.

lime said...

i have to say, i have had a number of friends who have immigrated here legally as kirsten has. they have similarly gone through all the hoops and paid all the fees and waited, waited, waited, all as they have worked and contributed to the well being of the community in which they chose to live. meanwhile there is all this blather of making things easier for the illegal immigrants. NO, streamline it for the folks like kirsten who are doing all that's asked of them. wait, that would actually make sense and we can't have government making sense. apologies to kirsten for all the crap our government heaps on her.

actonbell said...

Kirsten has all my sympathy! What a mess, I had no idea things were that bad, especially for a Canadian who has lived and worked here so long.

And happy doodling for Pyramid Man:)

Jeni said...

This is such an incredible and obviously, very frustrating procedure to put people through and it makes one wonder too how many of these tests, papers, processes, procedures are really, truly needed in the grand scheme of things?
Talk about a price being placed on freedom -which is essentially what the US does tout, isn't it, here in the grand old "land of the free and home of the brave" -I think this sure does give good evidence why so many people opt to go the illegal route in their quest to be here!

Shelley said...

Leviticus cannot be denied. So I assume you'll be selling your daughter into slavery soon? I've tried, but have you ever tried selling a 14 year-old? I swear, no one wants them.

On a serious note, my mother is always complaining about all the illegal immigrants, and why don't they just go about it legally? Years and years of red tape, I say. She has no idea. Then again, my mom is crazy.

flutter said...

I would be interested to see the costs of immigration to Canada. Just for comparison sake.

geewits said...

I don't understand any of this. When I worked for an Indian lady, she asked me to give her study material on things she might need to know to get her citizenship. I gave a her a bunch of basic stuff on how our government was set up and things like that and she went to downtown Dallas and took a test and was given citizenship. What's the deal with Minnesota?

Sid said...

Motherfucker? Are you serious? Shit imagine what a person of colour would have to do to obtain his/her green card. You know ... maybe you should have just married a local?

Realtor in Toronto said...

Marrying a local doesn't mean anything. You still have to go through the same process with the green card and eventually the citizenship. The only advantage you'd have is you wouldn't have to get your company to give you the work visa. But I agree, it's just such a long and expensive process and it really makes you think that every single American hates immigrants once you go through all this bureaucratic crap. I feel your pain.

Take care, Julie

Jazz said...

Wait. A Canadian? Living in Minnesota? What's the point? It's just as cold there as here!!!

choochoo said...

That sounds frustrating as all get-out :S What a frikkin mess.

AmyTree said...

OMG my heart goes out to Kirsten. And here I was moaning about the cost of applying for UK citizenship. I'm sorry. We do indeed occasionally (okay, often) suck at being nice to people. xxx

lindbloom said...

a canadian in minnesota? you ask why? it may be as cold but the woman i love is in minnesota :)

Anonymous said...

Well now I've heard everything! A lesbian and Canadian working in our (godless) public schools!

iJim sighs

Midlife Jobhunter said...

If 1/10 of those who complain about immigration had a clue as to the process, we might have a decent reform. My children's classical guitar teacher had a similar experience. Years to get the Green Card, yet such relief when finally in hand. Able to make a living.

Paint on, O Mighty Crisis. Your blog followers await your posts for whenever the paint dries.

secret agent woman said...

We surely do not make it easy. Maybe we could insitute soem sort of exchange program so that Candians who want to be here and Americans who want to be there could just swap.