Saturday, April 11, 2009

A 'Dedicated' Protector of the Homeland

Okay, so I admitted that I was a fairly naive person. I had not traveled much by this point and definitely not with M. We had all of course lived through September 11, but somehow in my mind, nearly four years later it just did not occur to me that it could cause me an issue. Neither did I think that the fact that it was the week of Bush II's second inauguration should cause me any issues. Truthfully, I had forgotten it was the same week.

Bordering on completely worthless and stupid, It didn't occur to me that a Pakistani man traveling on a Canadian passport could be singled out because of a Pakistani visa in his passport even if that visa was used so recently.

I did have qualms, knowing very little about immigration law about the two of us traveling together one on a U.S. passport and one on a Canadian passport, but I figured being truthful about our plans and the fact that M only had one suitcase of luggage would be proof enough that he had to return to Canada. In case anyone is unfamiliar, when entering the U.S. no matter from what country you are required to basically prove that you do not have immigrant intent. This usually comes into play with countries that require a visa, you've probably heard about it in reference to Pakistan, Bangladesh, India. . .even Mexico a lot, but every border agent is "trained" to try to figure out if you are trying to immigrate without the proper visa.

M and I had discussed it, and I had to go back to school and work relatively quickly. M would travel with me to my town and stay there a few weeks. It was our assumption that he would need to return to his home in Canada to obtain a proper divorce from his "wife" in Pakistan. And so, on the morning of January 15, 2005 we set out on our trip. We decided to stop and see a few of his friends first and got lunch at a nice little Italian place before beginning the journey. In a nice pile of mistakes I made, I had printed out directions from online and they were different that normal. They sent us to a different POE than we usually used, one in a much smaller, rural town bordering New York and Ontario, instead of my normal New York/Quebec POE. This makes a difference, I think, because of the "type" who was staffing each POE and their level of racist paranoia. (oops, did I write the word racist. . . .hmmmm?)

Anyway, M was unhappy with this route because it wasn't his normal either, but we didn't have a map and I was too worried to try to do the other route by memory, so we took it anyway. We waited several minutes in line before being "inspected" by the border agent. He quickly flipped through my passport and then M's, asking as he went, "How long are you planning on staying in the United States." My answer was not certain enough when I told him "Three weeks or so" for M's answer, and the man wanted to know how he would return. I honestly told him that M usually took a flight or bus back, but that we hadn't made plans for that yet, we would buy the ticket when we got there.

It was at this point that I realized the guard had stopped at M's Pakistani visa and used my passport as a bookmark to keep it open to that page. "Ma'am, " he said, "I'm going to need you to pull your car over beside that building. Leave the keys and all of your personal belongings inside. Do not take your cell phone with you." And still, I did not see that things had gone terribly wrong.

7 comments:

  1. oh why he marry with that pakistani girl if he want divorce after reaching canada.it's very difficult for girls in pakistan marry again after divorce.:-(
    why he marry if he was not agree how can his family force him :(
    poor pakistan girl......

    Khalid

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  2. It's all what ifs, but do you think that would have happened at the busier POE?

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  3. UAR--not sure, I think the timing was really bad, it is possible. . .I've always wondered that though.

    Khalid--The marriage was not his choice, definitely not his choice. However, I am with you and was very worried about the girl. . .we had several arguments about it. If it helps, without too many advance details, she remarried quickly.

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  4. CMM, sorry i havent commented in so long but i have just returned from england having a first meeting with a few of my own potential pakistani in laws. i followed your posts via my cell phone but for some reason i cant post on blogspot from the cell. just wanted you to know im here and hadnt forgotten you!!!

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  5. Jana--Thank you! I hope it went really well!!!

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  6. Hi CMM, I'm glad he's back home (so-to-speak) with you. I cant imagine what happens next is that bad compared to what you two have just been through. Guess I'll have to wait and see! Keep writing!

    -Also, I'm glad to hear in advance that girl remarried quickly.

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  7. between him and me, yes it went exceptionally well. but once we involved family...well you know it became "complicated". it will make you want to scream to the heavens.

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