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Change of Tone
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Apparently the War in Iraq is Going "Fair to Middlin', Pass The Collards"
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« And Maybe a Parental Warning Label Too | Main | American Idol Recap, May 17 »



May 17, 2006

While We All Discuss Illegal Aliens...

...folks doing it the right way are all but forgotten.

A bearded Jacob Brooks was moving fast Monday afternoon, dropping mail door to door on Capri Street as dogs growled from behind their mesh fences.

Brooks learned to move fast the hard way. As a foot soldier in the Iraq War, the 26-year-old was regularly inundated with mortars, rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

But being able to move fast won't get him anywhere with immigration services. Getting his wife Luba Brooks, a German citizen, out of Europe is a long, frustrating process that's getting under his skin.

"If my wife isn't over here by January of next year, I'm leaving and I ain't coming back," said Brooks, who has only spent four months with his wife since they married in 2003.

My views on illegal immigration aside (I'm in favor of securing the borders and opening the path to citizenship for many already here), it's ridiculous that even an Iraq war veteran trying to reunite with his wife is treated this way.

I've been through the immigration boondoggle, what with the Mrs. being from England, and it's not fun, probably running a close second to a swift kick in the nuts. Oh, sure, we encountered the odd person who genuinely wanted to do a good job and was a victim of the same system that kept us waiting, but more often than not it seemed the INS wasn't so much interested in faster, better, cheaper as they were slower, worse, and let's see how many fees we can charge these shmucks.

I can't offer much in the way of help to Mr. Brooks, but here's what worked for us:

Don't bother with calling the 1-800 number for anything. All you'll usually get is someone who can barely speak English and who is looking forward to clocking out.

Identify someone inside the INS. Look for the agent who approves a form of yours. Any name of someone that isn't hourly. Call that person for a status update. Call them every damn day until they know to expect your call. They'll do your legwork for you just to make you go away.

Read all the forms carefully. Make a copy of each one and complete the copy first so you make no mistakes, then complete the real one. The INS can't be bothered to stop terrorists from attending flight school here, but they sure can spot when you've left a field on a form blank - no mercy!

When it comes to the interview, don't worry about memorizing what kind of toothbrush your spouse uses. A more likely question is "where did you eat last night?" Also, bring photos and love letters and whatever else indicates that your spouse is crazy (because, really, why would they jump through all these hoops rather than just cross the border with Mexico).

Don't bother with a lawyer unless your case is terribly convoluted (hey, Pascal, sorry if I just drove away any business). With the power of the Internet, utilizing immigration websites, Usenet forums, and more, you can do this by yourself if you can read and focus for several minutes at a time.

And, finally, resign yourself to the fact that these people have control of your future to some degree. It sucks, but that's the way it is. Be polite to the imbeciles and nice as pie to those who show even the slightest interest in your cause. It's a hard slog, but it will work out.

Uh, usually.

Posted by Andy at 08:52 PM





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