Uncle Sam Says “You can Stay”.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Domestica,Family | Monday 14 September 2009 1:31 pm

It’s official — The US Government was unthreatened by the presence of a quiet, deceptively sane-appearing, nerdy English girl in our country, and has granted her the permission to legally hang out as long as she likes… with the caveat that she check back in two years time to let them know that everything is still groovy, and deny wholeheartedly that she is turning the denizens of these shores into her willing zombie slaves through the cunning use of delicious baked goods.

Sweets has written a thorough account of the immigration interview that we attended on Friday, Sept. 11th (how’s that for an ominous date to have to attend a government appointment?), and I’ll point you in her direction for the big picture and just add my own embellishments here.  Go read, then come back.  I’ll wait.  Shoo!

Alrighty, then.

First, we’ve had an unholy amount of rain the last week — a refreshing change considering the drought that Austin has been suffering, but c’mon… overcompensating much? — and the drive to San Antonio on Friday was like nipping at Moses’ heels while passing through the Red Sea, all the while knowing that the mass of water coming down on your head was a mere few seconds lead-in to the crashing sea that was going to wash over you.  So yeah, a fun drive in the rain, both ways.  Being a NOLA native, and being accustomed to driving in the rain every damned afternoon in the summer months, this was no big deal — even down to dodging around the idiots who acted as if they’d never seen moisture tumble from the sky.

We got into San Antonio stupid early, on purpose.  Looking to kill some time we searched out a coffee house, and I’d have even gladly accepted a Starbucks… but it was a hell of a job trying to find one.  I mean for the love of Jeebus, you can see them from SPACE, but I couldn’t find one anywhere along the I-35 stretch we were searching along.  We were in what passes for a business sector and in the vicinity of a government office building… I mean, isn’t it in the zoning ordinances to have a Starbucks every 50′ or so given the area?  Eventually common sense gave in and we used our fancy-pants Blackberry to search one out.

Entering the USCIS building we had to put bags/boxes/etc through an x-ray machine, and pass through a metal detector.  The usual dance for metal detectors is to strip all metal things off and put them in a little tray and pass though.  I wear steel-toed boots and they can occasionally set them off, so I asked the officer (an honest to goodness cop, not a rent-a-badge) if I should take them off, to which he replies “no, because I’m not STUPID.” It took me a beat or two to realize he wasn’t insulting me, but taking a shot at the TSA and their retarded flavor of airport security.  We were then treated to a highly entertaining rant on why it’s ineffective, and “do  you know what grows on those floors with all those barefoot people walking through?” I liked this guy immediately.

As we waited to be called, we were concerned that with all the Latino names being called that they would mispronounce Sweets’ name (as the officer did when we were passing through security).  She suggests we listen for our last name as that ought to be distinct enough.  When they finally called for us, they used Sweet’s first and middle name, mispronouncing the first.  Figures.

The interview process was… brief.  Startlingly so.  Literally, it was confirming our basic information (with a check-off on the form as we did so), and I suspect it was as much to ensure we were the ones who filled out the form as it was to guarantee accuracy.  They quizzed me on Sweets’ birth date and our marriage date (and my brain has a retarded habit of transposing March and May, so I had to do a quick mental check off before speaking —  January, February, March, April… “May!”). The whole time I’m looking at the HUGE stack of paperwork in her folder on us and wondering what else is in there… just curious, as I always am about these things (“Wow, they have a copy of my high school art-class projects in here!  This is incredible!”).

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this brief polite exchange.  Maybe a bag would get slipped over our heads as we ascended in the elevator and we’d be brought to separate rooms to be quizzed under a single 100 watt light bulb, never seeing the faces of our inquisitors.  Electrodes would be strapped to our sweaty extremities to detect if we were lying or truthing.  Who knows?!  As nervous as we were about not inadvertently screwing up, I think none of that would have come as a shock.  At the least I was expecting a little more behavioral observation while being asked a few more probing questions about our relationship, you know, to see if we betrayed any of the common “tells” of someone who is lying — not that we were, but with my luck, I’d raise some suspicions from just being so nervous.  *shrugs*

I guess the answer lies somewhere between the fact that the English aren’t rampantly running/climbing/swimming illegally across our borders (the “Mexican Triathlon” — not my term!) and thereby aren’t much of a threat, and that we obsessively researched the entire process and over-anticipated their every requirement — not only on the forms we submitted, but on what we had to bring with us to the interview (as was evidenced by our box full of stuff, where everyone else had a single, limp folder with them).  We must not have raised any red flags.  Go us!

So, Sweets can now work and travel without restriction, and without the need for any other government issued IDs beyond the Greencard (once it arrives).  In 3 years time she can start the citizenship process and can eventually count herself amongst he ranks of “stupid Americans”… a title she will have not only chosen willingly, but will have worked hard to earn.


1 Comment

  1. I won’t be a completely ‘stupid American’ I can take dual and still be half English!

    September 14, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

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