Certain things about that day at the border are burnt into my brain. The name of the officer who issued all of the orders, the reactions of his co-workers to his attitude and demeanor, the way that the other officers watched M and I each time we were again placed together over the course of the day. But I think the picture that I replay the most was M's face.
M was already 'broken' when he came back from Pakistan. He was emaciated, aged and more depressed than anyone I had ever known, but each time he saw me start to break he would come alive, and I did the same thing for him. It sounds dramatic as I type it, but when the officer first told us M was going to be denied entry I turned into stone. Every American stereotype about believing in "rights" and "justice" came out in me. I glazed over and stared at the officer. I made him give every inch that I could possibly take. I demanded explanations of each sheet of paper M had to sign. I stood my ground about getting my phone back and being allowed to call home. I demanded to know where M was going to be each time he left me. When M started to break, I told him not to worry, things would be fixed. This would be fixed. I drew my determination that day, and trust me, I needed it.
I had no idea of the determination it was going to take. I had no idea of the multiple laws that had been written in such a way as to undermine exactly what it was that I wanted, a life (in the United States) with M. I was ignorant to exactly how powerful this one man was in the grand scheme of things, and I had no idea that my government really has written away the rights, the same rights we as American citizens take for granted, for anyone who is not a citizen of our country. The same rights that dear Mr. Bush ironically propagandized spreading all over the world.
When it was written that "All men are created equal. . . ." it did not mean "all" men. At the time it left out both women and people of color. Now, it left out anyone not from the United States. When we tout "due process" and "justice" and "innocent until proven guilty," all of that has been intentionally written out of our immigration laws, and NO, it does not make it easier if you are married to or related to a U.S. citizen.
The memory that strikes me the most from that day, I was sitting in the waiting room in between the first and second round of questioning, still hoping to be allowed to take M home. M had disappeared from sight for what had to be an hour and I heard his voice. M is tall, over six feet tall. I caught sight of him as he was being led between a few cubicles. One of the other officers was taking him to be fingerprinted and he looked out and saw how worried I was. I was standing on my tiptoes to try to see him, to gauge the look on his face. He looked square at me, and winked.