Saturday, October 04, 2008

Final Result: FAIL :(

Well, sadly, our year-long immigration adventure has experienced a violent and devastating collision with the reality of immigration law. After nearly 11 months, two humiliating Mexican jobs, thousands of dollars, 9 international flights, endless hopes and dreams, and tons of prayers, we are left empty-handed. As things stand right now, Carlos is banned from entering the US for life, and there is no opportunity for a waiver. This was always a possibility, sort of the worst-case scenario, but this is now our only scenario. We're pursuing a few unlikely leads, but it seems like it's time to start planning for a future that doesn't include the US.

Still, all of your prayers really made a difference in how this day played out. Here are some ways:

  • We were blessed by the presence of a friend from the immigration forum who was with us for the whole thing and helped us keep cool heads and think quickly.
  • After the interview, Carlos returned to the hotel in record time, allowing us plenty of time to catch our flight back to Monterrey.
  • Despite being clearly affected by the stress of the day (making nonstop violent movements), Baby G is still doing OK in there.
We woke up at 5:20 am (well, the baby and I were up since 3 am stressing...). Carlos took the hotel shuttle to the consulate at 6 to get in line for his 6:45 am appointment.

The day consisted of turning in documents, getting fingerprinted, and waiting for the official interview. When the time came, Carlos says he had the good fortune of being interviewed by the most veteran official, since all the others kept coming to her with questions about the cases they were dealing with.

The entire interview dealt with Carlos' immigration history. He was asked (in Spanish) to detail the times he entered the US and was asked several questions about the incidents. After this, he was handed the checklist sheet where the legal sections were marked to indicate the verdict in his case.

That's when Fighter Carlos came out. He says he switched to English for more privacy because the other applicants around can hear everything. He then pulled out the legal argument I had written and individually attacked the sections of the law the officer had marked, presenting all the related evidence for each one. The officer gave great thought to each, and made some copies of some of the pieces of evidence (why? not really sure...). At some point here, she pulled out the actual document that went on record the day he was stopped at the entry point in Laredo and found to be using a US citizen's documents. I always wondered if they really had record of the incident, and apparently they do. This means that our situation was really determined on November 27, 1997 at the US border. In that single moment, our future was permanently altered. The fact that the incident was on record since that day means that nothing we could have done from the day we met would have changed this decision. I suppose I find that comforting.

The consular officer declared that it was so difficult to give him a lifetime ban, as he is a nice guy with a great record, the kind of guy they like to give visas to, and that the law was too harsh on him, but the law is what it is. She ended the interview by telling Carlos she hopes he'll pursue private legislation to overturn this decision.

Carlos came back, relayed the news to me, and I phoned the officer in charge of the consulate to confirm that this decision was accurate. According to reports, this officer has stated in the past year that people like Carlos SHOULD be eligible to file a waiver to end the lifetime ban, but on the phone, he denied this.

So we're left seeking help on how to fight this from some very creative friends from the immigration forum. Maybe we'll muster the patience and energy to seek a private bill. All I know is that once the baby's born, I don't intend to continue living in separate countries, so I will probably be moving back to Mexico until we find a new solution/a country that will accept us both.

And so our global adventure must continue...


lizzie9984 said...

hey girl im so sorry about your ban!! i hope that you find the strengh that you need in that precious baby that is soon to come. i wish you the best of luck in where ever life takes you both next..... all my prayers are with you guys :) i2us friend liz

Amanda said...

Well it does sound like he at least had a sympathetic ear at the immigration office. Everyone we encountered acted like Issac had killed someone. Im so sorry to hear this is the way this ended up for you. There is a petition site on my blog site for Congress to address immigration reform when they reconvene. I know this will not help your case, nor mine but hopefully even from Mexico we can have a positive effect on future families.

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