Whistling Dixie in July

Hello kids.

The expression “too little too late” is banging around my head this morning.

It comes up when I think about President Obama’s speech last week on immigration combined with the US Justice Department suing Arizona over SB1070.

There’s this big and obvious push to make it look like Obama and the US government finally woke up.

But I truly believe that it is all about a focused and concentrated political strategy for the upcoming November elections.

Once again, undocumented immigrants and their families aren’t at the center of this issue.

As I’ve stated previously, Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) passing this year is about as likely as one of my cats standing on two legs and belting out a Lady Gaga song.

So why all of the sudden intensity?

Kids, it feels to me like an ex trying to win us back.

You know how it is. Once you’ve made the decision to walk away, the other person wakes up.

But it’s too little too late.

President Obama, you know that ring of hope that you placed on my finger on Election Night in 2008?

I just pawned it for some much-needed cash.

President Barack Obama and Javier Aguirre’s Echo Chamber

Hey kids.

So Javier Aguirre, the head coach of Mexico’s national soccer team is holding a press conference today. He’ll supposedly be addressing the team’s dismal performance at the World Cup and his next steps. He already previously stated that he won’t continue to coach the Mexican team, or even stay in Mexico.

Mexico’s soccer team hasn’t gone past the second round of World Cup games for the past four World Cups.

16 years.

That track record isn’t due to a lack of talent. It’s all about backroom politics.

When it comes to Mexico, the best players aren’t all called for the World Cup. It’s another classic Mexican game called Who You Know.

President Barack Obama is supposed to give a speech tomorrow about immigration.

Kids, let me remind all of you that at the very least, President Obama could stop the deportation of undocumented youth today with an executive order.

As explained in a Colorlines article by Daisy Hernandez,

“After Latino Democratic lawmakers confirmed that comprehensive immigration reform won’t happen this year, Obama convened a meeting yesterday with community leaders to strategize on how they might push for such legislation. Why push for something that can’t happen? To make Republicans look like the bad guys come November elections.”

And voila! Backroom politics, part 2.

Otherwise known as not making it past the second round in 16 years.

So here’s the thing peeps: I have the sneaking suspicion that what Aguirre has to say today and what President Obama has to say tomorrow will sadly echo each other.

And that in both situations, we’ll have to wait a minimum of another four years for some kind of justice.

When Speaking Out Can Be Political Suicide

I am spitting-nails-furious. Through a friend’s post on Facebook, I just read this article in today’s New York Times:

Plea to Obama Led to an Immigrant’s Arrest

Here are the opening paragraphs:

The letter appealing to President Obama was written in frustration in January, by a woman who saw her family reflected in his. She was a white United States citizen married to an African man, and the couple — college-educated professionals in Manhattan — were stymied in their long legal battle to keep him in the country.

Could the president help, asked the woman, Caroline Jamieson, a marketing executive. She described the impasse that confronted her husband, Hervé Fonkou Takoulo, a citizen of Cameroon with an outstanding deportation order from a failed bid for asylum.

The response came on June 3, when two immigration agents stopped Mr. Takoulo, 34, in front of the couple’s East Village apartment building. He says one agent asked him, “Did you write a letter to President Obama?”

When he acknowledged that his wife had, he was handcuffed and sent to an immigration jail in New Jersey for deportation.

But on Thursday night, Mr. Takoulo was just as suddenly released, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had been questioned about the case by The New York Times.

Long story short, Caroline Jamieson and Hervé Fonkou Takoulo aren’t out of the woods just yet.

Nevertheless, I’m sure that the couple is grateful to the reporter Nina Bernstein and The New York Times for stepping in. In their situation, I’d be as well.

But how many of us write letters/sign petitions/make phone calls on behalf of our loved ones, or the loved one of another?

And quite frankly, how many of us are in a similar situation to Caroline and Hervé, and have not received any help from The New York Times so far, and probably won’t in the future?

Right now, I’m thinking about my show, The Deportee’s Wife. With each performance of my show, am I reducing R’s chances for possibly obtaining his U.S. permanent residency in the future? Am I on some ICE watch list? Is my website monitored? Is this blog monitored?

Are all of us vocal and visible members in the pro-immigration movement running a risk for our loved ones seeking U.S. residency in the future?

And after something like Hervé and Caroline’s story, don’t you dare tell me that I’m being too paranoid.

Hopelessness During Hard Times

Hello mis blog peeps.

You know, the World Cup is a lovely distraction. And I’ve been drilling into freelance work like nobody’s business. Head in the sand and all that.

But I’m overwhelmed by all of the bad and terrible news when it comes to US immigration. Right now, I’m in the moment where I can only take it in thimble-sized doses.

It happens. I get overloaded.

The funeral dirge that is the immigration situation in the US marches on, whether I click on the latest link or not.

And I learn of more and more blogs/news by and about US spouses who live and breathe my situation. US spouses  who try to do everything immigration-wise by the letter, and still have to choose between living without their partner in the US, or living with their spouse in another country.

And most of our spouses don’t get deported back to a “first-world” nation.

While on the one hand I now have a community that means the world to me, I’m also destroyed by the fact that there are so many of us out there. Our numbers grow every day.

You know the birds that are swamped with BP’s oil, like this one?

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert/May 9

That’s how I feel like right now. No matter how we US spouses fight against that literal and figurative border wall, we still get swept up in the slick.

There’s a real and deep connection between the amount of oil that continues to gush in the Gulf of Mexico, and the amount of time that comprehensive immigration reform continues to go unresolved in the United States.

These feelings of hopelessness around a realistic resolution to comprehensive immigration reform in the US weigh heavily on me.

Thick and sludge-like oil on my immigration activist wings.

New York DREAMers are Hungry for Change

Hey peeps. Feliz Lunes.

OK, based on what I’m reading/hearing from different sources, the possibility of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is probably dead this year in Washington. Very faint pulse.

I’m not happy to write that, but let’s call it like we see it.There are a whole bunch of factors that play into this dismal view; nevertheless, things are looking grim.

So why not pass the DREAM Act as a stand-along bill right now? For me, it is a no-brainer: Pass the DREAM act, bring in thousands of young pro-immigration supporters who can come out of the shadows and fight for the rest of us.

Members of the New York State Youth Leadership Council have been on a hunger strike outside of Senator Chuck Schumer’s office since June 1.

Today is June 7.

They risk their lives, and will continue with the hunger strike until Senator Schumer, (one of the original co-sponsors of the DREAM act) brings the DREAM act forward in the Senate as a stand-alone bill.

I naturally want CIR for all. However, that’s a lot more complicated right now.

So keep the pressure on for the DREAM act as a stand-alone bill. Click here to take action.

And if you’re in New York, please give each and every one of the DREAM act hunger strikers a big hug for me.

Pro-Immigration Neo-Nazis

Happy Friday peeps. Have you taken my blog’s donation button for a spin yet?:)

You know, something came up recently that has come up many times before:

People simply don’t understand that I live full-time in Mexico with my husband.

As a writer and performer, I have my own website, complete with a super-short bio. Even have a quick FAQ section for my show, The Deportee’s Wife. (Where I reiterate that I live in Mexico with R)

And yet, I can’t tell you how many times people in the States ask things along the lines of,

“How often do you visit your husband in Mexico?”

“When did you two decide to separate?”

“Is it hard with the two of you living in different countries?”

“We need you for a show in the States in a week/two days/this afternoon…etc…” (And of course, no offer of travel expenses)

Sure, there’ll be moments when I’m in the States for extended periods of time, due to my artistic work. That information is also on my website.

But here’s what gets me heated – the majority of the time, the confusion about where I live comes from people involved in the pro-immigration movement.

They’re usually white, middle-to-upper class, and have the “best” of intentions:

They want me to come and perform my show. They supposedly want me and my show to be a space for dialogue.

But they’re not listening. Forget about listening, they’re not reading.

And what I find fascinating is the unspoken assumption: Because I have formal education, grew up in an upper-middle class environment, US-born, of mixed race yet “pass,” etc…the unspoken assumption is that there’d be no way in hell that I’d live full-time with my husband in Mexico.

No matter how great a guy he may be.

Now, let me be clear here – all of us who have an immigration situation that directly affects our lives have the right to make whatever decision we want to in regards to our living situation.

So I’m no better a spouse than my US counterparts who stay in the US when immigration hits and splits their own family’s life. We all have our reasons.

But if these supposedly pro-immigrant white and privileged US-based activists who want to hire me/interview me/photograph me asap and can’t bother to read a one-paragraph bio in English and my small FAQ section, well then, here’s my question to them:

How are you  pro-immigrant activists purporting to give their voice to the voiceless, i.e. the undocumented people in the US?

Because if me with all of my privileges is met with such a degree of ignorance/lack of all types of listening, then how are undocumented people with a lot less privilege in the US being heard?

Let me put it to you like the New Yorker I am: If you’re a white, middle-upper class, formally educated  pro-immigration activist who has no direct and personal examples of immigration decimation in your own life, then you must identify and deal with your areas of privilege BEFORE you dive head-first into pro-immigration reform.

And you must listen like you’ve never listened before. There is no other option.

If you don’t follow that rule, I’ll take dealing with an anti-immigrant neo-nazi any day over dealing with the likes of you.

At least with the neo-nazi, I know exactly where we both stand.

PS. A first-a PS on my blog! My friend directed me towards this short video, by News with Nezua. Perfect.

Why Can’t Those “Illegals” Just Use the System?

So a little story hour for your Friday. Pull up a seat, because this one’s a doozy.

A good friend of mine (US citizen) is married to a Mexican man. Her husband had a US permanent residency appointment for Monday, December 28 of last year.

For those of you who don’t know, you just don’t stroll up to the US Consulate the day of your appointment. You have to arrive at least two days before, to complete a medical exam.

So if your US permanent residency appointment in Ciudad Juárez is for a Monday, you have to arrive the Thursday of the week before, to have a medical exam on Friday. Then you get to spend the weekend in Ciudad Juárez , waiting for your Monday appointment.

The most dangerous city in all of Mexico.

And, of course, the US Consulate is closed the 24th and 25th of December. So if my friend and her husband didn’t postpone the appointment, he’d have to arrive in  Juárez on Wednesday, December 23rd. That much more time to spend by himself in Juárez. Merry Christmas, indeed.

So they went through the correct and legal channels to reschedule his appointment. My friend was told that the appointment would be rescheduled in 2-3 months. It took 5 months.

The appointment finally happened this month, in May.

Now, my friend’s husband doesn’t have any deportations on his record. Never was undocumented in the US. No criminal record in Mexico or the US. He has a valid US tourist visa. My friend is a US citizen with a clean record. Her father proudly served in the US military.

This past Tuesday, my friend and her husband received notice that he was denied permanent residency to the US.

Why?

Oooh, kids-this is my favorite part of today’s story.

We have to do this high-context style, and go back in time a little. My friend was her husband’s financial sponsor for the permanent residency to the US. At his permanent residency appointment, the US government wasn’t happy with my friend as her husband’s financial sponsor, so due to the US government’s error in mathematics, my friend’s father quickly stepped in to be the financial sponsor. The father signed the correct documents, and sent over his tax records. Everything was scanned, and emailed to my friend’s husband in Ciudad Juárez.

The next morning, my friend’s husband handed in the documents at the US Consulate. A consulate worker reviewed the documents, and told my friend’s husband that everything was fine, and to wait 2-3 days for a DHL package. Cool. My friend’s husband flew back home.

Very kind people – you know who are:) – agreed to pick up his DHL package, and send it to the city where my friend and her husband live.

Because this is another lovely trick by the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez; their response time is supposedly 2-3 days after your appointment. But the US Consulate’s response is sent to the DHL store in, yep, you guessed it-Ciudad Juárez. So if you don’t have someone kind enough to pick up your package for you, you need to wait out those 2-3 days.

More time to kill in Ciudad Juárez.

OK-so my friend and her husband finally got their DHL package in their home this past Tuesday. The package had the husband’s Mexican passport, and the denial letter. The letter said that his application was denied because…

The US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez needed original signatures on the financial support documents from the father, i.e., they couldn’t be scanned.

So, when the US Consulate worker reviewed the documents in front of my friend’s husband, they couldn’t have told him that right then?

My friend’s father express mailed the same documents with the original signatures to them. My friend and her husband went to the local DHL offices, and sent the originals with them, along with the husband’s Mexican passport, back to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.

In the denial letter, they were told that they had an opportunity to re-send the materials. Now to send the documents and the passport from the city where they live to Juárez is approximately $300 Mexican pesos, around $23 US right now. How much does it cost for the US Consulate to send back the husband’s Mexican passport with an answer? $100 US dollars. I’m so not kidding. The $100 is of course on top of the application fees, lawyer fees that they paid up to this point, plus paying for the trip to Juárez. (flight, hotel, food)

Did it say in the denial letter from the US Consulate how long it will take for a response? No. Are my friend and her husband absolutely 100% sure that they will get a yes on the US permanent residency? No. Was her husband’s valid tourist visa shredded at the US consulate? Yes. They had travel plans coming up next week for an important family event in the States. He is almost 100% not going.

My friend openly talks about her high level of privilege in the many different areas of her life. And yet, even her husband’s case, his US permanent residency case isn’t a slam-dunk.

Big sigh.

BP should talk with the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez: I’m sure that the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez has a ton of extra papers that they could get rid of to plug the gushing oil leak. At least in that case, a person’s legal permanent residency application to the US would be put to some good use, no?