Monday, April 20, 2009

'Dedicated' pt.2

I was nervous as we walked inside without our passports. We looked for a representative to have them. We waited a few minutes before addressed by an officer who started to ask M questions about his trip to Pakistan and then questions about his residence in Canada. M was too honest and though he technically had a place to stay with his cousin, admitted that he had no lease in Canada as he had just come back from a five month stay in Pakistan. They discussed his previous jobs in Canada, since he also had no work in Canada right now, again, he had just returned from Pakistan.

Every part of the conversation continually went back to Pakistan and it was then that I started to get antsy. I must have rolled my eyes too obviously because the officer told me that I was no longer allowed to stand beside M and must go sit in one of the lobby chairs a few feet away. I felt I had no choice but to obey. Within a few minutes M joined me and the officer set out to search our car. When the officer came back he had basically decided we were up to no good. In my briefcase he found, as I had told him he would, out of date immigration paperwork and as I had not warned him, articles on divorce. The articles were research I had done on what M would have to do to divorce the woman in Pakistan, but somehow the officer had conjured in his head that we had some elaborate scheme starting six months ago for M and I to apply for his immigration, get married, and then for me to divorce him.

The officer placed us in holding cells behind the secondary inspection desk. We were separated and I was seated on a wooden bench in an entirely green room. He decided to "interview" us separately. I began calmly and explained that I had already told him about the expired visa application and told him that it didn't matter anyway, that M had been forced into an arranged marriage while in Pakistan and that was why he found the research on divorce. I also pointed out that if he read the research I had come up with, he would know that M had to return to Canada to divorce the woman since in my state you have to be a resident to obtain a divorce.

Additionally, I rationalized, we could not apply for the visa at all since M was already married and a divorce would take months or even a year to accomplish. I did not stay calm during this interview and in fact was reduced to tears in telling the story along with the investigators questions and accusations. The man basically ranged from accusing me of immigration fraud to complete stupidity for believing anything this Pakistani man had told me.

M's interrogation was handled a bit differently. He was offered coffee, and the officer tried to "rationalize" with him. Somehow, this officer believed there was something sinister behind the two of us traveling together, besides the obvious fact that M was in fact, technically, married and I looked like a hussy. I was kind of beginning to feel like one too.

The officer placed each of us back into the cells alone and I got to listen as he and his coworkers searched through my purse and briefcase taking great care to look at each of my ID cards and EMS certifications. At that time I carried with me all of my Paramedic cards, student ID's, etc. He used the computer to research us and I listened as he joked about the contents of my purse and the fact that "She's obviously from *insert my state name here* look at all this stuff." Continuously my phone rang as the hours passed and I got to listen to them sit and ignore it as my mom frantically called to see what had become of us.

Posted all around the secondary inspection area were rules that they were supposed to follow. . .things like allowing a phone call. . .letting you speak with a supervisor. It did not matter which of these I requested, all were denied. In fact, I was there seven hours before being allowed to drink water from the water fountain or to even go to the bathroom. I was forced to not only request the bathroom trip, but wait for my specific officer to come back (after 30-45 minutes) to be allowed to go.

The officer decided that allowing M to enter the United States was too much of a risk. You know, being married and Pakistani and all. Instead of allowing him to withdraw his petition to enter, the officer decided to conduct what is called an Expedited Removal. This is a process that was signed into law in 1996, the Clinton era. It was a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act and basically gave Customs Agents the right to deport anyone applying or attempting to enter the United States. The entering 'alien' is not allowed to appeal the decision or to see a judge. They are not even in the United States, but they are declared 'deported' just as if they were, and are banned from entering for five years.

There is no appeal process and no seeing a judge. One requirement is that a supervisor approve the removal, there was not one on duty that night so the officer phoned him at home and he must have given verbal permission. Additionally, it is posted that I had the right to speak to the supervisor--the only manner of appeal--the officer denied this and did not allow me to speak with him.

M was photographed, fingerprinted and driven back to the Canadian side, after nine hours of holding, by the officer. I was allowed to follow, apply for reentry to Canada and pick M up in the Canadian immigration office. It was about 10:30 pm when we headed back to find a hotel where we could both stay.


  1. Oh my GOD! Holding cells? Deportation! You weren't kidding when you said it gets worse! My goodness, this sound terrible!

  2. my God! WTH??!! sometimes i hate my own country.....when you named this complicated, i just didnt know just how much it really is.

    and i thought i had troubles...

    keep going and PLEASE, we know you have a life but you cant leave us logging in and out waiting for the next part loool. come on dear sis!!

  3. Deported over that nonevidence and banned from entry for five years!? This is ridiculously unreasonable. I can't believe this happened! What a nightmare!

  4. Gotta love bitter people that are power hungry being employed in these sorts of places......I say the "gotta love" with a great deal of sarcasm.

  5. That jerkoff at this POE is only doing his job...the job that our former president and our senators authorized them to do. Immigration in this country is a crock of sh*t.

    CMM, it was very hard for me to read this and I already knew the story. The rudeness reminds me of the day my husband was taken into custody. It was actually two years ago this coming saturday. The officer that day made a pouty face at us as my son and I talked to my husband through a glass window. They gave me his belt and his wallet and then he was gone...only he got the luxary of sitting in a jail cell for 4 months before he was deported. It really hurts so much to think about and I applaud you for having the strength to even write it. The only good thing about this story is that you two are together now and you won't EVER have to deal with that again.

  6. You know, I had to think about this story a lot when writing it. I left out a lot of the emotional stuff. . .I'll probably write a little bit more about it another time. There were some special things about M's reactions that kept me sane. This was really very stressful to us both. . .and without certain happenings I would have FREAKED OUT COMPLETELY.

    You know, about the four months waiting, I have thought about it a number of times and thanked God about it. Specifically that he was allowed to leave same day. If they had arrested him for something so completely ludicrous, I'm not sure what I would have done, but I'm almost certain it would have made the news.

    So, though I think Expedited Removal is a load of crap (should just be a straight denial IMO for which there is no stigma of "deportation.. . . "it is better than being arrested and then detained and treated like you have no rights at all which happens to immigrants (both legal and not. . .) every day.

    This story really is hard to write for me. I've been surprised.