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December 30, 2008

Kristine LaLonde has invited you to Gather to Vote Against English Only.

Date: Jan 5, 2009, Time: 9:30 AM
Location: Davidson County Election Commission Metro Office Building

Hi everyone,

Please consider coming to vote against English Only on January 5. Bring the kids and I'll bring the donuts.




Invite More Friends by adding them to the guest list.

Kristine LaLonde
cell: 615.522.7319

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2008

Volunteers for Nashville for All of US

If you are interested in volunteering with Nashville For All Of Us in these weeks leading up to the special election for English Only contact Christy Frink and who will be handling volunteer coordination for the campaign from here out.

We want to thank you all so much for your interest in this crucial issue and for your eagerness to give your time and talents over the next few weeks. As you probably know, we have a lot to do before the election and are working hard to find ways to plug each and every one of you into the campaign. While we're getting organized on our end, the biggest thing you can do is spread the word. Talk to friends and family, join a Facebook group (or a few!), and be sure to let us know about all the creative ways you're getting the word out.

Over the next few weeks, I or someone from the coalition be contacting you with specific areas in which Nashville For All Of Us needs your help. In the mean time, keep checking back with the website for the most up-to-date news and please feel free to contact me at christy.frink@gmail.com with any questions, concerns, and ideas you may have.

Thanks again for your support and patience, and I look forward to working with you!


Christy Frink
Nashville For All Of Us

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:03 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2008

Facebook event to vote Against English Only in Nashville Tennessee

Join my event on January 2, 2009 at www.Facebook.com to vote against English Only in Nashville, Tennessee. Here is a link to the event;


This is the first day of early voting to vote “against" two measures that will be on the ballot in Davidson County in January:

Amendment One: This is the “English Only” Charter change. English is already the “official and legal language” of Tennessee, meaning this referendum is a waste of time and the city's money. The real effect if this amendment is approved will be to discourage business investments in Nashville and damage Nashville’s well-deserved reputation as a welcoming city.

Amendment Two: This would make it much easier to make changes to the Metro Charter (like English Only) by drastically lowering the number of signatures required to bring such amendments onto a ballot. This would make our city's governing charter subject to special interests, and this could be done as often as once a year. This amendment would reduce the effectiveness of our Metro Government and weaken our stable business environment.

Early voting begins on Friday January 2, at the Davidson County Election Commission office, 800 Second Avenue South, and ends January 17. The final day of voting will be January 22 at regular voting places countywide.


Mario Ramos

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2008

Amendments on the ballot in Nashville TN, January 2009

I hope you will join me in voting "against" two measures that will be on the ballot in Davidson County in January:

Amendment One: This is the “English Only” Charter change. As you may know, English is already the “official and legal language” of Tennessee, meaning this referendum is a waste of time and the city's money. The real effect if this amendment is approved will be to discourage business investments in Nashville, meaning we will lose jobs, and damage Nashville’s well-deserved reputation as a welcoming city.

Amendment Two: This would make it much easier to make changes to the Metro Charter (like English Only) by drastically lowering the number of signatures required to bring such amendments onto a ballot. This would make our city's governing charter subject to special interests, and this could be done as often as once a year. This amendment would reduce the effectiveness of our Metro Government and weaken our stable business environment.

Early voting begins on Friday January 2, at the Davidson County Election Commission office, 800 Second Avenue South, and ends January 17. The final day of voting will be January 22 at regular voting places countywide.

Thank you for helping to defeat these unwise measures.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2008

What would Jesus have to say about illegal immigration?


"The Bible contains numerous passages outlining the duty of the faithful to treat 'aliens' with charity and tolerance
By BILL KING Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Dec. 6, 2008, 8:52AM

A few months ago I was in church listening to our pastor's sermon. He was describing a feast where the prophets had sent out word for all the people of Israel to come together. Interestingly, the invitation to the feast specially included all of the "aliens living among you."

When I got home I got on an electronic version of the Bible and did a search for the word "alien." To my surprise, the search turned up dozens of references. It seems that the issue of immigration has been on peoples' minds for some time.

A copy of the passages can be found at www.BillKingHouston.com/scripture. Most are in the Old Testament and while the message varies, the underlying theme is an admonishment to treat aliens living in your land with tolerance and charity. Frequently, they are grouped with widows and orphans, and the passages charge us with an affirmative duty to see to their well being. In many of these passages, originally written to the Israelites, they are reminded that they will do these things because they once lived as aliens in the land of Egypt.

There are two passages that I found particularly compelling. First is Exodus 12:49:
"The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you."

I am not a big proponent of mixing religion and politics, but I do not believe we should check our faith-based values at the courthouse door or the capitol steps. I find many of the legislative proposals floating around these days pretty inconsistent with this passage.

The second is less legalistic, but even more compelling. Deuteronomy 10:17-19 provides:
"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality . . . He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt."...".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2008

FAQ: What are the details of the new Defense Department Visa Program?

Answer; Here is an FAQ from the DoD;

The Secretary of Defense authorized the military services to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered to be vital to the national interest. Those holding critical skills – physicians, nurses, and certain experts in language with associated cultural backgrounds – would be eligible. To determine its value in enhancing military readiness, the limited pilot program will recruit up to 1,000 people, and will continue for a period of up to 12 months.

1. The applicant must be in one of the following categories at time of enlistment a. asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or b. nonimmigrant categories E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V
2. The applicant must have been in valid status in one of those categories for at least two years immediately prior to the enlistment date, but it does not have to be the same category as the
one held on the date of enlistment; and
3. An applicant who may be eligible on the basis of a nonimmigrant category at time of enlistment (see 1b above) must not have had any single absence from the United States of more than 90 days during the two year period immediately preceding the date of enlistment.
Health Care Professionals
• Applicants must fill medical specialties where the service has a shortfall
• Applicants must meet all qualification criteria required for their medical specialty, and the criteria for foreign-trained DoD medical personnel recruited under other authorities
• Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English
• Applicants must commit to at least 3 years of active duty, or six years in the Selected Reserve Enlisted Individuals with Special Language and Culture Backgrounds
• Applicants must possess specific language and culture capabilities in a language critical to DoD
• Applicants must demonstrate a language proficiency
• Applicants must meet all existing enlistment eligibility criteria
• Applicants must enlist for at least 4 years of active duty
(Services may add additional requirements)

• Albanian
• Amharic
• Arabic
• Azerbaijani
• Bengali
• Burmese
• Cambodian-Khmer
• Chinese
• Czech
• Hausa
• Hindi
• Hungarian
• Igbo
• Indonesian
• Korean
• Kurdish
• Lao
• Malay
• Malayalam
• Moro
• Nepalese
• Persian [Dari &
• Polish
• Punjabi
• Pushtu (aka Pashto)
• Russian
• Sindhi
• Sinhalese
• Somali
• Swahili
• Tamil
• Turkish
• Turkmen
• Urdu
• Yoruba

Non-citizens have served in the military since the Revolutionary War. The Lodge Act of 1950 permitted non-citizen Eastern Europeans to enlist between 1950 and 1959. Additionally, the United States officially began recruiting Filipino nationals into the Navy in the late 1940s, when it signed the Military Bases Agreement of 1947 allowing U.S. military bases in the Philippines. In total, over
35,000 Filipinos enlisted in the Navy through the program between 1952 and 1991.

Today, about 29,000 non-citizens serve in uniform, and about 8,000 legal permanent resident aliens (green card holders) enlist each year. Law ensures that the sacrifice of non-citizens during a time of
national need is met with an opportunity for early citizenship, to recognize their contribution and sacrifice.

In fact, today's service members are eligible for expedited citizenship under a July 2002 Executive Order, and the military services have worked closely with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to streamline citizenship processing for service members. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 43,000 members of the Armed Forces have attained their citizenship while serving this nation.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2008

Help Harry Reid! Senate Majority Leader Needs to Hear Support for Immigration Reform!

Please call 202-224-3542; I called it took only one minute of time;

From AILA Advocacy;

"Every time he sticks up for immigrants or talks about the need for an overhaul of our broken immigration system, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gets hundreds of angry phone calls and very few nods of support. Most recently, in a November interview with the Detroit Free Press, the highest ranking Senator asserted that, "On immigration, there's been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. ... We'll do that... I don't expect much of a fight at all." Soon after the words were off the press, the phone in Senator Reid's office was ringing off the hook by callers who had a lot to say except for "Thank you for your support of immigration reform"!

Please take a couple minutes out of your day to call the Senator's office and thank him for his outspoken leadership on this pressing issue. Remember, we can't win meaningful immigration reform without him! (Editor's note: I called and left a message. It was quick, easy, and welcomed by his staff.)".

Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2008

Sweden Bucks Trend on Immigrant Labor

An Open Invitation While Other Nations Guard Their Jobs


STOCKHOLM -- Sweden is bucking the immigration trend in Europe by opening its labor market to foreign workers of all skill levels without quotas, despite an economic recession and rising unemployment.

Sweden's approach goes beyond the more cautious trend in Europe and most other developed economies, which generally seek to attract a limited number of highly skilled workers. Britain, for example, recently announced a new points system for assessing would-be immigrants. That system streamlines old immigration channels but raises higher hurdles for all but the most highly skilled immigrants from outside the European Union.

On Monday, Sweden begins implementing new rules that will give companies greater ability to recruit the foreigners they want to employ. The government hopes the new regulations will help the country deal with labor shortages in the near term and also support an aging population further down the line.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2008

English Only poll

Please take the time, ASAP, to participate in the English Only poll being conducted by the Nashville Business Journal.


Posted by VisaLawyer at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

Google Blogs Alert for: H-1B1 Chile Singapore

H1B1 Visa - Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Chile
For purposes of the two trade agreements, a "professional" is defined as "a national of [Chile or Singapore] who is engaged in a specialty occupation requiring (a) theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge ...
Visa Lawyer Blog - http://www.visalawyerblog.com/

Google Web Alert for: H-1B1 Chile Singapore

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2008

Cleaning Firm Used Illegal Workers at Chertoff Home

By Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, December 11, 2008; Page A01

"Every few weeks for nearly four years, the Secret Service screened the IDs of employees for a Maryland cleaning company before they entered the house of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the nation's top immigration official.

The company's owner says the workers sailed through the checks -- although some of them turned out to be illegal immigrants.

Now, owner James D. Reid finds himself in a predicament that he considers especially confounding. In October, he was fined $22,880 after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators said he failed to check identification and work documents and fill out required I-9 verification forms for employees, five of whom he said were part of crews sent to Chertoff's home and whom ICE told him to fire because they were undocumented.

"Our people need to know," said the Montgomery County businessman. "Our Homeland Security can't police their own home. How can they police our borders?...".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2008

FAQ: What is the new Defense Department Visa Program?

Answer; Here is a press release from the DOD;

"New Accessions Pilot Program Authorized

The Defense Department announced today that it has authorized the military services to implement a pilot program; temporarily permitting enlistment into military service certain legal aliens (who have lived in the United States for at least two years) who hold skills that are critically needed in the military.

The pilot will address health care professionals holding needed medical specialties (physicians and nurses) and people with skills in certain strategic foreign languages and cultures, qualifications important to present and future military operations. A fact sheet detailing the languages and basic requirements is available.

“The services are doing a tremendous job of recruiting quality personnel to meet our various missions,” said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense for military personnel policy. “This pilot seeks to provide yet another opportunity to fill the gaps, with people who are highly qualified and eager to serve this nation.”
The military services will review their requirements and determine the pilot’s efficacy within their service. If they choose to participate, they will provide implementation plans within 45 days. The pilot may recruit up to 1,000 people, and after one year, its value for enhancing military readiness will be evaluated.

Non-citizens have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War. Today about 29,000 non-citizens serve in uniform, and about 8,000 permanent resident aliens (green card holders) enlist each year. This initiative expands non-citizen eligibility for military service to include not only the green card holders, but also those visa holders legally present in the U.S., such as doctors, nurses, and students.

Those volunteering to serve the nation by joining the military during a time of war would be eligible for accelerated citizenship – as are all others who serve in the military – by virtue of the July 3, 2002 executive order which allows expedited naturalization for those non-citizens who serve in our armed forces".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2008

FAQ; Are there visas for health care workers and language and cultural specialists?

Answer; Yes, the Defense Department has announced a special program. Read the press release below;

"Military Recruits Non-citizen Health Care Workers, Linguists
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2008 – The Defense Department has launched a year-long pilot program to recruit about 1,000 non-U.S. citizen health care workers and language and cultural specialists for service in America’s military, a senior DoD official said here today.

The new program targets people who don’t have “green cards” but do have visas and work permits. Those the military hopes to attract legally live and work in the United States and have capabilities highly valued by the military, Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.

“These are going to be people that are legally present in the United States [and] have been here for years,” Carr said.

People sought for the program include doctors, nurses, other health care professionals and those proficient in certain foreign languages and associated cultures, according to a DoD news release issued today.

The U.S. military services sign up about 8,000 foreign nationals annually, Carr said, and about 29,000 non-citizens serve in the U.S. military today. Non-citizen servicemembers normally possess a State Department-issued green card that authorizes them to live and work in the United States.

The pilot program is designed to assist the Defense Department in maintaining its requirement of about 24,000 doctors, dentists and nurses for the military services, Carr said.

“In those areas, combined, we’re short almost 1,000 [people] against that 24,000 base, divided equally between physicians and nurses,” Carr said. All nursing specialties are needed, as well as neural surgeons, family practitioners, dermatologists and some other specialties.

Past accession programs failed to attract enough medical practitioners and linguists, Carr said, so the department decided to focus on foreign nationals.

“We observed there are tens of thousands of health professionals in the United States on a work visa who would be very interested in achieving green card status or, ultimately, citizenship,” Carr said.

The pilot program provides successful applicants with a way to accelerate achievement of U.S. citizenship, Carr said, with the proviso that “they’re willing to serve in our time of need to fulfill a vital national interest.” Applicants are required to commit to specified periods of military service.

Applicants also will undergo security screenings and meet the same high standards required for every other person entering the military today, Carr said. Foreign nationals, he said, have provided exemplary military service throughout American history.

“If this program succeeds, it will leave us with a stronger medical care capacity, particularly in skills we’re short of,” Carr said, as well as providing much-needed linguists and cultural specialists".

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2008

Information for Members of the Military and Their Families

One of my clients found this page on the USCIS.org website. Here is a service to help military personnel;

This section of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website contains immigration-related information and links to resources geared specifically for members of the military and their families.

USCIS is working with the Department of Defense to ensure the military community has accurate and up-to-date information about immigration services and benefits.
Military Help Line

USCIS has established a toll-free military help line, 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645), exclusively for members of the military and their families. USCIS customer service specialists are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (CST), excluding federal holidays. After-hours callers will receive an email address that they can use to contact USCIS for assistance. Callers will receive assistance with immigration-related information, such as:

* Tracking their application for naturalization (Form N-400);
* Notifying USCIS of a new mailing address or duty station;
* Checking the status of an application or petition;
* Bringing a spouse, fiancé(e) or adopted child to the United States;
* Obtaining posthumous citizenship for a deceased member of the Armed Services; and
* Submitting an application for expedited processing.

Service members and their families stationed in the United States or overseas may access the help line using the toll-free number, through their base telephone operator or using the Defense Switched Network (DSN). Operators will ask members of the general public to call our main customer service line: 1-800-375-5283.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2008

Temporary Protected Status Re-Registration Period Extended for Honduran and Nicaraguan Nationals

November 21, 2008 - WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced an extension to the re-registration period for nationals of Nicaragua and Honduras who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and are now eligible to re-register and maintain their status an additional 18 months. Initially, the 60-day re-registration period for nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua began Oct. 1, 2008 and ended on Dec. 1, 2008. This re-registration period is now being extended through Dec. 30, 2008.

Additionally, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for eligible Honduran and Nicaraguan TPS beneficiaries for 6 months through July 5, 2009. This will allow sufficient time for eligible TPS beneficiaries to re-register and receive an EAD without any lapse in employment authorization.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously published Notices in the Federal Register on Oct. 1, 2008, announcing that the TPS designations of Honduras and Nicaragua have been extended 18 months from January 6, 2009 through July 5, 2010. The extension will make those who have already been granted TPS eligible to re-register and maintain their status for an additional 18 months. There are approximately 3,500 nationals of Nicaragua and 70,000 nationals of Honduras (and people having no nationality who last habitually resided in Honduras and Nicaragua) eligible for TPS re-registration. TPS does not apply to Nicaraguan or Honduran nationals who entered the United States after Dec. 30, 1998.

Nicaraguan and Honduran TPS beneficiaries are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible within the registration period that now ends Dec. 30, 2008. The extension of TPS for Nicaragua and Honduras is effective Jan. 6, 2009 and will remain in effect through July 5, 2010.

TPS beneficiaries must submit the Application for Temporary Protected Status, Form I-821, without the application fee and the Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765, in order to re-register for TPS. A separate biometric service fee, or a fee waiver request, must be submitted by re-registrants, 14-years of age and older. If the applicant is only seeking to re-register for TPS and is not seeking an extension of employment authorization, he or she must submit Form I-765 for data-gathering purposes only and is not required to submit the I-765 filing fee. All applicants seeking an extension of employment authorization through July 5, 2010 must submit the required application filing fee with Form I-765 or a fee waiver request with proper documentation. Failure to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee waiver request will result in the rejection of the re-registration application.

Further details on the extensions of the TPS re-registration periods for Nicaragua and Honduras and automatic extensions of the EADs will be available in a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published on Nov. 24, 2008. More information can also be obtained from the USCIS National Customer Service Center toll-free number 1-800-375-5283. TPS forms are available from the toll-free USCIS Forms line, 1-800-870-3676.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2008

IPC Synthesis of 2008 Latino, Asian, and New American Voting Data, Immigration as a Election Issue, And Prospects For Reform in 2009

For Immediate Release

One Stop Shopping:

December 4, 2008

Washington, DC-One month ago today, Latino, Asian, and New American citizens voted in an historic election that brought wholesale change to the White House and Congress. Since then, leaders on both sides of the aisle have been talking about how the record turnout of Asian, Latino, and New American voters was integral in the both the presidential and congressional victories.

The Immigration Policy Center has released a comprehensive report merging the compelling data from various organizations on the Asian, Latino, and New American vote into one document with a united narrative: Asians, Latinos, and New Americans make up a critical new voting bloc-one with which immigrant-bashing equals a losing strategy for candidates seeking election. The report summarizes early, exit and election-day polling showing how many and why these voters turned out at a record rate and provides insight into how the immigration debate swayed their vote. The report concludes with early signals from the general American public, new administration and Congress on how they see the future of immigration reform playing out.

To view the report visit www.ImmigrationPolicy.org.

Also, visit the IPC blog to learn more about immigration and the 2008 election at www.ImmigrationImpact.com.

Posted by VisaLawyer at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2008

More Immigration Losers


December 2, 2008

Virginia Republican Congressman Virgil Goode's narrow loss to Democrat Tom Perriello became official last week, and it caps another bad showing for immigration restrictionists. For the second straight election, incumbent Republicans who attempted to turn illegal immigration into a wedge issue fared poorly.

Anti-immigration hardliners Randy Graf, John Hostettler and J.D. Hayworth were among the Republicans who lost in 2006. Joining them this year were GOP Representatives Thelma Drake (Virginia), Tom Feeney (Florida), Ric Keller (Florida) and Robin Hayes (North Carolina) -- all Members of a House anti-immigration caucus that focuses on demonizing the undocumented.

According to a review of election results by America's Voice, an advocacy group, Republican restrictionists had especially weak showings in "battleground" races. "Nineteen of 21 winners advocated immigration policies beyond enforcement-only," says the report. "This includes 5 of 5 Senate races and 14 of 16 House races listed in the 'toss-up,' 'leans Republican,' or 'leans Democratic' categories of the Cook Political Report."

Posted by VisaLawyer at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2008

FAQ; what is the process like at the waiver interview in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico?

Answer; Here is an email from Kerri Meelia relating her husband's experience the waiver interview. Kerri is a client that I helped through this nerve racking process. Her story of family success is balanced against the thousands of people whose families have been separated by the US immigration laws. Here is the email told wonderfully in her voice;

"Hi Everyone,

Well, we did it. Manuel finally got his Visa to come to the U.S. and it's such a relief! It makes me so happy to imagine uniting our little family with all of you. At the same time we leave with mixed emotions thinking of the thousands of people waiting in line from dawn until dusk outside the consulate who aren't so lucky. People pay so much money and work so hard, often to be postponed or simply denied for reasons they don't even understand. Or worse, they leave feeling like they're being appropriately "punished" for having been in the U.S. illegally. Before Manuel's final interview I made this journal entry about our experience in Juarez and just wanted to put it out there so people get a sense of what's going on and how it needs to change.

My workout buddy was in the hotel gym again this morning here in Ciudad Juarez. He runs for an hour wearing a sombrero and sweatshirt tucked into jeans.. Like most people here he greets me with a big smile. We got to talking while running, and it turns out he is here in Juarez for his wife’s third Visa appointment. They met in Chicago and started their family there 15 years ago. He had his papers and she didn’t, but with all the arrests of illegals they've made recently she thought she’d better try. Since having her first interview at the consulate a year ago, she's been in Mexico alone while her husband works and her kids go to school in Chicago. He starts to look vulnerable as he says it’s all in God’s hands. Like he believes it, but that he also really wants a break. He says he’s tired. At the end of our conversation yesterday he told me half-jokingly he was running in his winter clothes to prepare for crossing the desert with his wife. Today, he wore the same outfit, but it was spotless, and it was the spotlessness that finally made me cry. The dignity in his humility. These people are good. Later I met his wife, who held and cooed Ela like everyone else in Mexico, telling me that being away from her kids was like having her heart torn out. Then she cried and told Ela never to leave my side.

Everywhere we go people are doing business with the consulate. It’s like Visa applicant camp. Kids speaking English run up and down the hotel halls chased by their Spanish-speaking parents. Entire families gather for the free breakfast to support the one person dressed well with papers in hand, waiting for an interview. Outside the consulate itself hundreds of people sit in the parking lot nursing babies, heating tortillas, and mostly waiting. Police walk through the crowds answering questions. Manuel got all dressed up for his appointment, as did lots of others. It’s funny though, I dressed him like an American business man, while most of the fancier people here wear shiny leather jackets, gold chains and grease in their hair. Others wear jeans, leather boots, silver belt-buckles and cowboy hat – the fathers and brothers of U.S. residents hoping to straight from el campo to el norte. I also chuckled at all the people dressed in winter parkas and scarves, shivering. In fact today's paper complains about the consulate makes family members wait in the "extreme cold" while applicants have their interview. I run around in a sun dress and people look at me like I'm insane.

There’s a Starbucks nearby, of course, which lured me out of my lockdown in the hotel. I was nervous about leaving because of the drug violence and well known killing of young women, but now that it’s Monday and the entire area is full of eager visa applicants and their families, the eeriness of this place has lessened. Nonetheless, just as I started to feel comfortable sitting in the sun on the Starbucks patio drinking my predictable decaf Americano, three trucks full of “federales” pulled in wearing black masks and wielding machine guns. So we left. But the rest waited, adding color to this otherwise strangely clean, fenced-off, neighborhood full of American chains, hotels and drug traffickers. And of course, the big, concrete consulate with bars on it’s tiny windows.

On Friday, Manuel showed up at the medical clinic at 6 AM for his medical exam mandated by the consulate. After waiting outside for 2 hours with hundreds of people, he was told they had no time to see him, and transported to another site. Once there, they examined him, took his blood, gave him vaccines without telling him what they were, and then charged him $400 dollars for the whole thing. After that, they told him he needed to see a psychologist but didn’t tell him why. So, he hailed a cab with the other “questionably sane” visa applicants to a psychologists’ office where he had to put together puzzles, write stories, play the ink blot game and answer a bunch of questions. He said that for him it wasn’t so bad, but that a little old man sat in front of the puzzles sweating for three hours unable to complete them. Manuel got home at seven at night without having eaten anything. Later, I met with a woman who was at the psychologist until midnight. Manuel spent the next day with a fever, a headache and a well-justified chip on his shoulder.

That’s the story so far. It has been psychologically and physically really difficult for Manuel, and in turn for me. It shouldn’t be this way. I wish it wasn’t. It is part of why Juarez is violent. It is a town of poor people bordering a rich country. It is a mix of desperation and envy on one end, and power and panic on the other. (At the same time there is good cheer, humor, camaraderie and surrender…the kind of stuff that makes me love Mexico.)

Nonetheless, knowing that Manuel is doing all of this for me .I kept wanting to do something for him, like buy him a bottle of wine or give him a massage, but I know all he really wants is for me to be happy where I am, with what we’ve got. A life-long lucha no matter what happens!

Posted by VisaLawyer at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2008

Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI) Meeting

December 2 - 8:30
Scarritt Bennett
Laskey Building
Room Laskey A
Park in Lot A off of 18th

Special Guests and Featured Topic - Nashville for All of Us Campaign

Posted by VisaLawyer at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)