Hey guys, I haven’t blogged in a long time now. I am now working full time and, amazingly enough, finding time to blog is a lot harder when working full time than when volunteering.
But today this whole immigration issue got very personal, and the injustice is boiling out of my pores and making the air around me reek. Let me back up.
I have met and fallen in love with a wonderful Salvadoran man. He is a student at the national university, active in the cultural and arts scene in his hometown, and always calls me “Darling,” no matter what. My brain doesn’t know if it’s on cocaine or on Love (I know, but my brain doesn’t, isn’t that fun!), and all in all this has been one of the happiest, most exciting times of my life. I was nervous at first about asking my family if I could invite him to join us for Christmas in Texas — Christmas is such a sacred time of family, and I wanted to be sure nobody felt like he would be an intruder on that. But my parents were thrilled at the idea and we started applying for a tourist visa immediately. I felt the love and support of my whole community around me: friends, family, ex-professors, former neighbors, all excited about this man who has captured my heart, and all eager to meet him. We even got my former schoolmate’s dad, who is now in Congress, to write a letter of support for his visa application!
I knew that applying for a visa was treacherous, and I have heard more than my fair share of rejection stories, but I felt confident that we had a strong case and lots of positive energy working in our favor. But all that confidence just made it more painful when we heard he had been rejected.
We had prepared for the visa interview for weeks. There is fee of $160, then an online application (all in English), and then they give you an appointment for an interview at the US Embassy in El Salvador, at which point the interviewer hears out your case and reviews any supporting documents you have, such as proof of income or enrollment in school, letters of invitation, etc. Many of our friends have been through this process and were eager to coach us through and share their experiences. He showed up an hour and a half before his appointment so he could get his official photo taken, go through the body scanner, and wait in the frigid waiting room to be called up to the bulletproof interview window.
“What is the purpose of your trip?”
“To visit my girlfriend’s family, they have invited me to visit.”
“I’m sorry, we will not be giving you a US visa today. Goodbye.”
Just like that.
As a US citizen, I often feel entitled to certain things: food served without hairs in it, for there to always be toilet paper in the bathroom, people to speak a language I understand. But one thing I thought it was reasonable to feel entitled to was to be able to introduce the person I love to my family, hometown, and friends. He is not trying to immigrate illegally, he has committed no crime, he simply is not from somewhere in the world that MY country wants people coming from. The interviewer was not interested in reviewing his case or reading the supporting documents he had so painstakingly brought with him. It was just that simple.
“You are not a human being to me, so I think I will just say no this time. Sorry, not sorry.”
The worst part is the feeling of powerlessness and injustice. we were not even given a chance, and there is little or nothing we can do to change the situation. It is simply the whim of some embassy worker that determines something so important in my life — and I was BORN in the United States! My relatives came to the US on the MAYFLOWER! Even that privilege is not powerful enough to overcome the deeply rooted insensitivity and racism that is institutionalized in my country.
I love the United States and am grateful for so many things, but today I do not feel proud.