Why Don’t They Just Apply for Citizenship?

This post is based on question posed to me by a white person I know.

Mario and I came to the United States last March. We had spent the last year and a half in an immigration limbo, not sure of where we would be from one month to the next. When we got here, I was really excited to show Mario what life in the U.S. was like. I was not thinking about the state of our country or potential political problems. I was really excited!11008793_714451911831_8719257411067050066_n.jpg

This election has shattered what was left of my bubble. I am from a small town, but I had lived for years in Spain and moved to a blue bubble in a red state. I was surrounded by people who were affirming my views that Donald Trump was not the right person to lead our country. I did not think it would happen. The whole time, I was not seeing or hearing how scared people of color, immigrants, refugees, LBGTQ people were. My whiteness allowed me to skirt by those issues. I was not actively ignoring it, but I still was not hearing it. That all changed on November 9. I have had to engage with a country I now know is deeply racist. Most of all, white people—white women, even—voted for a racist, sexist, homophobic person instead of thinking about others. What they said to marginalized people was, “I just don’t care about you.”

With Trump’s announcement that he plans to deport 3 million “illegals,” I have begun to reflect on the whole process of immigration. Mario, a white European, had many great advantages in his immigration process: he is married to me, he’s white, he’s Western European, he has a university degree, etc. I thought then that the process would be relatively easy and straightforward.

It wasn’t. It took us a year and a half and over $3,000 to do it all—and that’s without the help of lawyer. I am a native English speaker and I’m pretty good at researching things on the Internet. I also have a university degree.

It wasn’t “easy” for us. But it wasn’t necessary either. We chose to get married, we chose to live in Spain, and we chose to come back to the U.S. There was no necessity; we were not in danger in any way. For most of the immigrants and refugees in the U.S., especially the undocumented, there is no “choice.” They move to protect their families, to seek a country that will allow them to enough money to support themselves or their families, or some other reason.

In some small ways, I understand the struggle of immigration. However, I will never understand what my colleague with an undocumented mother is going through. Right now, she is fearful that, one day, she will go home to find her mother gone, never to return. I am frightened for the future of our country, the country to which we decided to move in January of 2014. I wonder sometimes if, had we known about Trump’s victory, would we have moved here? Maybe not. But then, we always had a choice.

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Visa Woes—Part 3

When we last left off my tale of our struggle to get Mario a green card, we had sent in all our documents to the NVC (National Visa Center), and we were waiting. Again. The NVC tells you that you will have to wait at least 60 days. If there is any error in the mountains of paperwork, you will have to fix them, and wait for another 60 days. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

I decided to call the NVC on December 13, after about 90 days, to get an update on Mario’s status. I was dreading the phone call, in a way, because I knew there was a chance they would tell me I had committed some mistake, and there would be another 60-day waiting period. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I punched in the number and put the phone to my ear. I had a chance to calm myself, though, due to the 40-minute wait I went through! Is there anything worse than the music when you’re waiting to speak to someone at a call center? I wish there would just be … well, anything besides what they normally put out! The worst are the repeated messages that your call is important to them, blah, blah, blah. I get it!

Finally, though, a nice lady picked up the phone. I gave her our Case Number, and she informed that it was, and I quote, “Done.” Done? What did that mean, done? Complete? Everything’s okay? I think my rapid-fire style of questioning made her laugh, because she told me that, yes, we were approved.

We did it!

I asked her about the next step, the interview with a consular officer at the embassy. She told me that Mario would be scheduled for his interview in January, meaning the interview would be in February.

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The Immigrant Experience—A Spaniard in the U.S.

Guest post by Mario, first in Spanish (translation follows, for all you monolinguals or just those who don’t speak Spanish):

Mario in YosemiteMario in Yosemite

Al poco de llegar a los EE.UU., Kaley me pidió que, por favor, escribiera una entrada para su blog en la que comentase algunas diferencias entre los EE.UU. y España que hayan llamado mi atención. Me lo ha recordado unas quinientas veces, aproximadamente. Ahora que lo pienso, creo que esta semana no me ha dicho nada; probablemente, me haya dado por un caso perdido. No es que haya estado remoloneando todo este tiempo, sino que necesitaba la inspiración y, por estas cosas de la vida, las musas me han visitado mientras veía el sexto partido de la primera ronda de los playoffs de la NBA entre los San Antonio Spurs y Los Angeles Clippers (lo bueno de vivir en los EE.UU. es que no tienes que trasnochar par ver los partidos de la NBA). Como las musas son caprichosas y nunca se sabe cuándo van a volver, voy escribiendo notas en el teléfono mientras que con un ojo sigo el partido –bastante ajustado en los dos primeros cuartos, por cierto.

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Visa Woes—Part 2

After filing the I-30 and other relative forms, the next step was to wait. I was curious about how long it was all going to take, so I started googling. And, similarly to when you have strange symptoms and take to Google, it did not get my hopes up. In fact, I began to worry that perhaps I should have begun earlier. Much earlier.

I started to read Betsy’s blog about her struggles to get her English husband to the U.S. They weren’t living together, so I felt for her even more. From her blog, I found Sara’s. Sara still isn’t finished with the process after one small error caused her wait to become even longer.

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