It’s an ugly feeling to have your life be in the hands of another person. Somebody who is sitting behind a pane of glass gets to decide where you will live, and what you will do, and where you can go. Neither my wife nor myself has ever been convicted of a crime. We had reasonable savings and were both very well educated. If not us, what kind of people could the government be looking for?
After double and triple checking that there was no excuse to deny us. The woman reluctantly approved our application and then snapped at us to leave. There wasn’t much celebration. My wife and I both felt as if we’d done something wrong and left vaguely disconcerted.
The visa came in the form of a stamp applied to my wife’s passport. Oddly, the visa stamp expires the moment you enter the US. My wife and I got our affairs in order in Peru, and made the trip to the US knowing it would be a while before my wife was allowed to return home.
Upon arrival in Miami, my wife was questioned for about an hour. We were eventually released into the US, but again it didn’t feel like a celebration. We were too exhausted from the procedure. Again, reasonable vetting wouldn’t have been a problem, but the immigration officers seemed to have the assumption that we were up to no good and were mad at us for failing to exhibit evidence of their suspicion. It was a very strange exchange.
My next concern was the fact that for her first month in the US, my wife didn’t have a document issued from the US to prove she was legally within the country. The visa in her passport expired, and while we waited for her US issue identity card, all she had was a letter from the government explaining her status.
“Keep this letter on you at all times,” the letter said.
As if anybody would take a letter seriously.
Eventually her green card arrived in the mail affording her “all the rights of any American Citizen except the right to vote.” I felt better once she had her green card, however recent actions from the Trump administration have proven that even a green card is limited protection against government overreach.
The next step for us was to simply be productive citizens of the United States for a few years. We both worked and paid our taxes and were law abiding citizens. We had two children, and when it came time to apply for my wife’s citizenship, we included their birth certificates as “proof of the legitimacy of our marriage.”
It’s important to note that both of my children are natural born US citizens. My wife had a green card when they were born and has since been naturalized. I can’t help but think of the people with green cards who were denied entry to the US recently because of Trump’s travel ban. These green card holders were likely mothers or fathers to US citizens. I can only imagine the trauma a child must feel when told “The government has told your mother she can’t return to you.” I’ve seen people online justify this as a “small delay” recently, but the fact is this is a significant betrayal of faith that isn’t easily restored especially when the person delayed had not been accused of any wrongdoing.