Did I mention that Mr. Lee Hales is a furruner? Mmmhmm.
Indeed, as we speak he is perhaps sleeping or drowning his leg cramps in watered down Qatar Airways cocktails somewhere above Europe, heading for America after 21 months in South Africa, his country of origin.
Mr. Lee Hales, it should be noted, is a taller than average white dude with a full head of hair, so he is obviously going to embark upon a sinister political career which will span decades and advance the evil one world government.
Dun dun duuuuuuuuun.
But I’m not really here to talk about that, amusing though it is.
No, I want to talk about your friend and mine, US Immigration. Oh tri-headed hydra of my nightmares, you are really fucking crazy!
Now, let me be up front and clear about what I think of immigration related issues. Let me just start by saying, it wasn’t undocumented workers who destroyed the economy. Ahem.
I think that if we want to solve our problems with illegal immigrants (and lets face it, when people froth over illegal immigrants what they really mean is OMG latina/o, hispanic, chicana/o) we need to actually address the deeper issues that have created this mess. One is the corruption, crime and poverty in the countries that illegal immigrants are fleeing. And let me be clear, I believe that the US IS PROFOUNDLY COMPLICIT in those problems. How so?
Our desperate burning need for cheap ass goods, which can only be produced by abused laborers.
Also the fact that we are the largest end market for illegal drugs.
I have visited Mr. Lee Hales twice, and while I enjoyed South Africa, and found it beautiful and would even live there under the circumstances of my choosing, it was definitely not home. Not in a bad way, but not home. During our Kafkaesque trudge through the bowels of the USCIS, NVC, and finally (and worst) the US Consulate in Johannesburg, there came a point at which I had to consider the reality of moving to South Africa for an indefinite period,just to be with my husband.
This, thankfully was a moot issue. But it really made some things very emotionally real to me, about leaving one’s country.
It really sucks when you feel as though all other options have been closed off. No, really. It sucks.
People are not leaving their families, their language and their homes to come to our hostile, often racist, generally xenophobic but otherwise pretty nice country on a fucking lark.
Ask yourself how bad it would need to get for you to leave everything behind?
If you don’t think you would ever consider doing it, period, even in the face of starvation, no matter what nightmare scenario occurred, leave me your address, as I will be sending a large hirsute spider to slap the idealistic bullshit patriotism right out of you. EIGHT TIMES.
So yeah. There’s that.
Then there is this other little problem. If undocumented workers were not able to find employment anywhere in the US, they wouldn’t come here, and they wouldn’t stay. Someone is hiring them. Lots of someones in fact, because we are blithering out one side of our mouths and eating cheap delicious Avocados through the other.
Which why this hubbub about illegal immigrants is really just old-fashioned racism. Because if it was about ANYTHING else, we could and would crack down on companies and individuals hiring undocumented workers. But we don’t, because we need the cheap labor and goods. As to the idea that illegal immigrants are using our barely extant social services, well, go ahead and try to get state assistance without a Social Security number. Now try to somehow get a social security number illegally. Now go do it somewhere where you barely speak the language. No, please try it. I’ll wait.
And anyway, even if there were a ton of illegal immigrants using social services, let’s be real about who primarily needs social services– mothers and children. If you are the kind of person who really thinks that the inherent worth and dignity of a person hinges on where they happened to be born, well, I don’t know what to tell you, because it is random freaking luck that you won the privilege lottery. I for one choose not to blame the poor, oppressed and exploited (especially, you know, after they have completely fucking uprooted themselves in the hope of pulling themselves up by the ‘ol bootstraps) for their situation. But then, I’m a filthy socialist pinko bitchface. Motherhood is hard, and kids deserve basic food, medical care and education. I do not fucking care where they happened to be born.
Which brings me neatly to some of the barriers to legal immigration, of which I have intimate and godasmywittness perhaps carnal knowledge (I paper cut myself a lot these past couple of years).
We are going to talk about marriage based visas, because that’s what I know, and that’s considered the “easiest” route to permanent residency, by many people.
There are some issues, people.
Firstly, gay american citizens or permanent residents? Fuck your “pursuit of happiness,” you don’t get to sponsor the foreign-born love of your life, even if it was totally legal to marry them in their country.
This is a huge violation of basic rights. And you know, I don’t give a shit about how much two dudes makin’ it freaks you out. I personally loathe the scent, texture and taste of olives. They smell like socks and unwashed gentlemen business to me. They taste like dirt, to me. But many, many people, of all ages, gender presentations, cultural backgrounds and ethnicities love them some motherfucking olives.
The point? I don’t get to arbitrarily declare olives the fruit of the devil and campaign to have them banned. That would be completely illogical.
It is equally illogical, that solely on the basis of gender, which affects not one other fucking person, (other than insurance companies, if you subscribe to the corporation as person theory), marriage, and by extension immigration sponsorship rights, are denied to American citizens. I would also argue that since single people pay higher taxes than marrieds, gay people are effectively suffering taxation without rights, tea partiers, ahem, cough cough, but that’s a whole other post.
So yeah, that’s the first profoundly fucked up thing about marriage based immigration.
Fun fact: You must make a certain amount of money each year to sponsor your spouse for a green card. Why? Because fuck you poor people! You deserve nothing! NOTHING MWUAHAHAHAHAHAH!
Oh, and because the Government really, really wants to avoid giving any kind of state or federal assistance to non-citizens, until they have worked 40 quarters, and presumably will have paid in enough taxes to bother giving a shit about.
I do understand the purpose of this law, in re: ensuring that immigrants are not buying green cards, but despite understanding the conceptual framework, I find it absurd. Also, the poverty guidelines are such that really, people could still easily be tempted to engage in sham marriages. I don’t believe this particular scenario is common, simply because it takes a long time to get a green card, and it’s really not worth the hassle for someone you don’t love. There are definitely squicky import-a-wife services, but those marriages are considered legit, because its American dudes who being squicky and that’s cool. I guess.
Poor people have a right to be married, and two heads are better at escaping grinding poverty than one.
This, in turn, ties in to the fees.
Ah, the fees for immigration services. Not counting any attorney’s fees, it costs a cool $1200 in filing fees, processing fees and medical exam fees to get a green card.
Again- poor folks have a right to marry who they choose, regardless of where that person is from, and sponsor them for permanent residency.
These barriers to entry were high as hell for me, as a broke full-time student working part-time at the Evil Finance Company from Hell. I just squeaked by the annual income requirement. Getting together the money for fees caused significant delays in our process. It sucked. I missed Mr. Lee Hales every single hour of every single stupid, stupid day that we had to be apart. I felt guilty and awful when we had to wait months to be able to shell out for fees. I felt worse when we had to choose whether to pay the fees, or for me to come visit him, after being apart for nine god damned months.
It was not fun. Having to prove that your love is real to people who don’t care whether you live, or die in a tragi-comic pickled pigs foot cannery accident– the very definition of Kafkaesque un-fun.
Finally, the process itself is not transparent. Because there are three agencies involved, it can be confusing, frustrating and rage inducing to navigate through. I couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer, so we muddled through things ourselves. Yes, there are sources of information on the internet, no they are not always helpful or accurate.
I have pretty decent language skills, but I struggled with some of the ambiguous and deliberately obtuse shit that the immigration authorities threw at us.
And those are some of my major issues with the most basic aspects of immigration. I plan to write a full on guide at some point, in the hopes that some poor soul, lost in the bureaucracy will find it helpful. I also plan to talk about what I think they could do to improve the system, at some point.
But soon it will be time to pick up Mr. Lee Hales, and begin RUINING AMERICA BWAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!!