Welcome, fall! Um lots has happened. The last news with my visa was that we (employer + attorney + me) put in for an expedited process. Immigration recently returned our request on grounds that my employer hadn’t been verified, or something like that. My attorney, being the badass that she is, sent the request right back, attaching proof that we were indeed visited by an immigration officer. So we don’t know what or when the next correspondence with immigration will be. We’re not back to square one, but it’s like we’re in the limbo…of the limbo…as in, we’re waiting for immigration to get back to us about this request…as we wait for my visa.
Here are the other things that have been happening:
Big Change Numero Uno: I moved into a studio!
Hooray for being allowed to sit at my own kitchen table! Ha! My new place is within stumbling walking distance from some cool breweries, coffeeshops, an arcade bar, my favorite taco place, and coincidentally, church. I will likely attend all of these places in one day. In that order. Come to church with me! Or come visit me and I’ll take you to that cool arcade bar where I went on a third date with an Iranian American who was a great kisser. (FYI- he was so charming that he ghosted me…and when this dweeb ran into me after that, he pretended to not know me. Sucker!) The next blog will talk more about this studio.
Big Change Numero Dos: Driver’s license obstacles
Hey guess what? Because my work visa isn’t here, I cannot renew my driver’s license which expired mid-October. When my license was still current, I went to the DMV, they said that even though I’m in pending status (and that I have my own social security number and and my country’s passport), that isn’t enough to get through their system. Driving without a license is not just illegal, it is also dangerous for folks who may be perceived as undocumented. I don’t know the laws around police and ICE cooperation, but I think in some states it’s illegal for police officers to ask whether an individual they pulled over is documented or not. I think there are serious consequences for foreigners in this country if they’re on the road without proof of legal residency. Problematic legals status isn’t one of my problems, so for now this free spirit (who’s mostly late and is kind of shitty at directions) will be navigating public transit. I missed 3 buses already. At least the bus drivers are really nice!
Semi-Big Change Numero Tres: Department of Homeland Security media snooping
In two days, the Department of Homeland Security will make official its policy to investigate immigrants and naturalized citizens’ public (?) records; for example, Alien Files (A-files) can include and will not be limited to viewing medical records, “social media handles and aliases”, “specific benefit eligibility information as required by the benefit being sought”, and the particular shade of your poo on Tuesdays (just kidding about that last one).
I skimmed that baby from top to bottom (#collegereadingskillz) and my understanding is that DHS wants to set up a tracking system called “DHS/USCIS-ICE-CBP-001 Alien File, Index, and National File Tracking System of Records”. The online version of the proposal say “The purpose of this system of records is to facilitate administration of benefits and enforcement of provisions under the INA and related immigration statutes” (The INA = Immigration and Nationality Act, passed in 1952).
I’m not in an immigration process (as in, I am not applying for permanent residency- I am applying for a 2-year work visa) so these media snoopings may or may not apply to me. What saddens me is that this is a pretty big violation of privacy for my fellow internationals who already acquired permanent residency or even earned their citizenship. Securing a greencard (permanent residency) or becoming an “American” both entail a lot of effort, not just for the person applying for these, but for their spouses, attorneys, community members, and employers. Isn’t the process difficult enough as it is? In this article put out by Newsweek, Conor Gaffey reports that this kind of investigation is attributed to the San Bernadino attacks (another article says the attackers had allegedly shared their radical views on social media)- perhaps DHS thinks that scrutinizing all immigrants at the expense of a (dangerous) few will lessen the number of terrorist attacks. I think not. I understand that this can be termed as a “security” issue, but frankly, aren’t there other ways to more effectively handle the problem of terrorism via entrance into the U.S.? The United States has thousands of immigrants…going through their social media (if said accounts are public), even if it’s done at random, may or may not correlate with said immigrant’s intention or action to harm those living in the U.S.