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Dear Ms. Bullock,

I have been a fan since Speed back in 1994 when I was barely 9. So it pains me to see one of my favorite actors make a movie that doesn’t paint a fair picture of U.S. immigration policies.

I took my mother out to see The Proposal yesterday–she had fun but even she recognized that it is not so easy to gain legal residency through marriage.

Forget the fact that this option is not even available to bi-national same sex couples for a second.

First, you wouldn’t be allowed to ‘jump in line’ ahead of the so-called gardeners and construction workers. "They are looking for terrorists, not book publishers" is just a line in the movie.

Second, the immigration official would have asked tougher questions, called your bluff within a minute and charged you with marriage fraud. Even if you wanted to return to Canada, you would be placed in an ICE detention centeron taxpayer money to serve time for the felony. For meals, you would get peanut butter and jelly and that too, quite infrequently. You would also see people in the center that have been kept there indefinitely. You might even see children who should be in school, rather than locked away in detention.

In the meantime, ICE could lose your paperwork so even if you wanted to go back to Canada, you might not be able to do so voluntarily. Then you would wait for months more at the detention center to get a new passport or prove that you really have Canadian residency.

Finally, after many months, you would be allowed to go back on your own money.  But once outside the United States, you would not be able to come back for another 10 years, due to the 10-year ban for accruing illegal presence. The only way to circumvent this would be an I-601 waiver that no one could have filed for you.

So there is really no happily ever after here, except for the fact that Canada is just like the United States, only with free health care, a better banking system and same-sex marriage.

Originally posted to AQueerDesi on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 06:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If she had been a Mexican (11+ / 0-)

    instead of a Canadian that movie would have been boycotted by everyone who watches Fox News and Lou Dobbs.

    I don't have a sig line.

    by NMDad on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 06:28:18 PM PDT

  •  You are a fan of Sandra Bullock? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ripeness Is All, Nick Zouroudis

    I mean, sorry but, what did you expect?

  •  Respectfully (12+ / 0-)

    You don't know what you're talking about.  As someone married to an immigrant of caucasian/European descent (from Australia) I speak from personal experience when I say that unless you're from a country where the majority is non-white or otherwise has a track record of immigration abscondment (i.e. Russia, these days), getting married to a US citizen remains not only the easiest way to immigrate, but is virtually guaranteed to be accomplished successfully with an interview which really doesn't go all that far.

    Indeed, a huge percentage of marriage-based adjustments are done every year, the largest category of them, for immigrants who were actually out of legal status when they married.

    As long as they are white, anyhow.

    (Although if you're a Black US female with kids marrying a single white male, be prepared to have them ask you all about your kids' legitimacy - our examiner did, resulting in a formal complaint from me since of course the status of my US citizen children was utterly irrelevant!)

    Of course, if your beloved is NOT from a Euro-country, it can be far more difficult.

    I haven't seen the Proposal and don't plan to, having had my fill of these types of movies with the old Green Card.  But your diary isn't recognizing that the interactions with USCIS for a couple where there isn't a country involved which isn't either (a) notorious for illegal immigraiton or (b) non-white in its majority is fundamentally different usually when it comes to marriage-based immigration.

    •  P.S. (5+ / 0-)

      And you absolutely DO "jump ahead" if you are a marriage-based applicant, since the visa category has no numerical limit (unlike the categories for laborers).

      •  That's not jumping ahead (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        They are simply petitions for different categories.  The categories for employment based petitions and family based petitions are totally different.  Each category has a yearly numerical limit (except the immediate relatives of American Citizens).  In other words, there are multiple lines, not one. Therefore, there is no such thing as "jumping ahead".  Apples and oranges here.

        •  Semantics (0+ / 0-)

          Which to me are not a distinction with a difference.  A spouse of a US citizen is immediately classified as an immediate relative and without regard to any other issue is admitted immediately assuming that all their clearances are in order.  A fiance of a US citizen is entitled to immediately enter and obtain work authorization pending the marriage (so long as it is solemnized within 90 days) - they don't even have to be married to get the visa.

          And the largest category of marriage-based adjustments is done for immigrants who almost certainly misrepresented their intent to remain in the US when they entered (i.e. they entered on a visitor's visa knowing they were not going to leave, whether because their marriage plans were already set and they did not want to wait in their home countries for a fiance visa, or because they intended to immigrate and then find a US citizen spouse -- more folks than we care to admit on the Left).  This particular violation is almost always forgiven (even for folks that need waivers, much of the time, because of their criminal records in their home country) so long as they get married to a US citizen, so long as the person was not EWI (entered without inspection.)

          Entire websites are dedicated to these practices.  So we can agree to disagree about whether they are used to "jump ahead" of what would otherwise be a ridiculously long wait (and I concede fully that it is ridiculous.)

      •  my friend married a woman from Austrailia, it (0+ / 0-)

        took about a month for all the paper work to go through.

    •  yep (0+ / 0-)

      that pretty much matches what my coworkers have told me (the ones from non-white countries...)

    •  Bullshit, my sister married a Mexicam who (0+ / 0-)

      over stayed his visa.

      •  A mexian who overstays a VISA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and marries a US Citizen is treated the same as any other similarly situated immigrant (Undocumented.) The problem comes when a person enters the US illegally. Then it becomes very difficult to "get legal" without leaving the country.

        I addition, there are a lot of assholes acting as immigration hearing officers. It helps to have a qualified lawyer guiding you through the system.

        Oh Barry, they are turning Health Care into an Actuary's wet dream.

        by fredlonsdale on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 07:58:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is harder than that (0+ / 0-)

          The phrase "leaving the country" almost always means a ten year bar (meaning your spouse will be banned from the US for ten years).

          If you are a Mexican... then the phrase "enters the US illegally" becomes awfully difficult to "prove" as well. The burden of proof is on you, and some immigration judges go out of their way to make things impossible.

          •  More often than not (0+ / 0-)

            what you say is true. (I think you meant legally instead of illegally.)

            But beyond the harsh provisions of the law, the enforcement of immigration laws has been haphazard, unequal an in many cases unfair.

            I can relate to you the story of two South American brothers. At different times, both entered the US illegally with the paid help of coyotes on the Mexican border. The older brother lived and worked in New England for ten years. He was arrested three times for drunk driving. The third time, he was transferred to Immigration authorities, spent 90 days in detention and was deported to his home country.

            His brother, about a year after the older brother was deported, hit a parked car and left the scene of the accident. He was picked up the next day by the local police. The charges were dismissed and he was transferred to Federal detention. The Federal detention officers, three days later, released him. They actually drove him to the house he was staying at and turned him over to the people in the house who also were illegals. His lawyer was able to get him a work permit and social security number the following week.

            WTF. The lawyer later explained that Immigration was doing that now because of a change in policy. This happened in late 2008 while Bush was still in office.

            Here you have a case where the immigration laws were broken, no ifs, ands or buts, by both individuals. One gets deported, the other is legally able to work and live in this country. You have to wonder if we apprehend and prosecute murderers, bank robbers and embezzlers in the same way.

            Oh Barry, they are turning Health Care into an Actuary's wet dream.

            by fredlonsdale on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:00:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I beg to differ (5+ / 0-)

      I am also married to an Australian.

      We are both white.

      I moved from the US to Australia to be with him, and lived there for 4 years.  All of which was documented.

      But when it came to our interview, I was called in first to the ultra-religious agent, who flat out accused me of being a lesbian, and my marriage being a sham.

      Why?  Because I am female, and I have the nerve to own a business in partnership with another female.  We also own real estate together.

      However the fact that my business partner has two children, and the fact that I left my beloved business partner to move to Australia did not matter one whit.

      She put the whole process in severe jeopardy, and my husband and I spent many months not knowing if he would be deported because I was a closet (even to me) lesbian.

      It took two years and $10,000 to finally get his green card.  You try not working for 2 years.

      That does not mean that other people's stories are not worse.  I know they are.  But the whole system is completely arbitrary.

      We only got lucky because our lawyer happened to be an ex-immigration judge in that jurisdiction and got that agent removed from our case.  Most people do not have that kind of clout.

      On the other hand, for me to get a work permit for Australia all it took was for me to send a chest x-ray, a bank statement, and a photo (showing I'm white) to the embassy in DC, and I got a 4-year permit within 3 months.

      •  Um... Catesby... (0+ / 0-)

        On the other hand, for me to get a work permit for Australia all it took was for me to send a chest x-ray, a bank statement, and a photo (showing I'm white) to the embassy in DC, and I got a 4-year permit within 3 months.

        I really doubt that the photo requirement was anything to do with colour of skin.  Despite what you may hear Australia is not a a particularly racist country.  Oh, there are some racists in it but by far the majority of those racists would not be "white".   If you want the long story I am quite willing to tell it.  

        Just to illustrate the point, ever heard of a "whinging Pom"?

        Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

        by Demena on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 07:23:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I Was Not Commenting (0+ / 0-)

        On same-sex marriage based immigration, which as you know is a deal-breaker as far as our country is concerned.  Your story is related to that even if it was just a phantom in the mind of your interviewer (just as my "illegimate" US born children were.)  

        Your experience is far out of the ordinary, as I'm sure you'd admit - because not too many people would get accused of being in a sham marriage to evade the same sex laws when, as you claim, your immigration to Australia was fully documented (I assume you got your visa here in the US.)

        I also didn't comment on the comparative ease of getting a visa to Oz.  Of course, one doesn't need one - one can just enter as a domestic partner with far less of the paperwork than is required here.

    •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caipirinha, ladybug53, Albatross

      My path to a green card was long and filled with annoying bureaucratic snafus (don't ever move to a different state with a pending application - even if you follow all the procedures correctly).  The interview at the end was incredibly brief, trivial, and mind-bogglingly anticlimactic.

  •  I dont think its fair to be blaming an actress. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You should be addressing your letter to the screenwriter. Sandra Bullock is just happy to be in a role and a movie that many people went to see.

  •  In real life, Sandra Bullock.... (8+ / 0-)

    ...wouldn't have been able to receive time-traveling mail either. (Yeah, I watched that other movie of hers.)

  •  You do know... (3+ / 0-)

    ...that they really didn't time travel in Back to the Future?  Pretty much the same scenario here, fantasy that most, if not all, recognize as such.

    Oh, there you are, Perry. -Phineas -SLB-

    by boran2 on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 06:36:24 PM PDT

  •  It cost us $10,000 (7+ / 0-)

    for a really expensive immigration lawyer to get my husband just a green card.

    And that didn't stop an immigration agent (whose walls were covered with pictures of the Virgin Mary - I thought that was illegal in govt offices) accusing me of being a lesbian because I had a female business partner.  Which put everything off 6 months and prevented my husband from leaving the country for a two week vacation to see his children.

    The whole process took 2 years - during which time, my husband couldn't work.

    But we couldn't feel bad, because we met people in the immigration offices whose parents were American who were still waiting after 6 years.

  •  And in addition, she'd have to room with this guy (0+ / 0-)

    Sandra Bullock's new roomie

    Gitmo like movie with Sandra and Sylvester Stalone MUCH more.

    "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

    by mbayrob on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 07:29:10 PM PDT

  •  Reminds me of a Simpsons episode..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unterhausen, Wee Mama, codairem

    In episode 2F09, when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones.  I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a magic xylophone or something?  Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

    We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

    by burrow owl on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 07:35:04 PM PDT

  •  It's just a frackin' romantic comedy, innit? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    President Bush has left the building. And it's in terrible shape.

    by perro amarillo on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 07:39:18 PM PDT

  •  That is actually incorrect (0+ / 0-)

    First, if you enter into a marriage in good faith, you do in fact jump the queque.  If you apply for a green card based on a marriage to a US national the visa is immediately available and there is no limit on the number of visas.

    Second, generally, whenever someone is scheduled for deportation, they can instead "voluntarily depart."

    Third, even if charged with marriage fraud, there must be a trial and conviction, and whatever sentence is imposed is served in a federal prison not an INS detention facility.

    •  That's not correct-- if you are found to (0+ / 0-)

      have committed marriage fraud you are inadmissible to the US, period.  That determination is made administratively by a DHS adjudicator and does not require that there ever be prosecution.

      INA § 212(a)(6)(C) Misrepresentation (i) In General

      Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act is inadmissible.

      It also makes you deportable, again, without a criminal prosecution. For the purposes of this discussion, criminal prosecution (witha MUCH higher standard of proof) is in no way necessary to render someone permanently inadmissible to the US.

      Also, this statement

      Second, generally, whenever someone is scheduled for deportation, they can instead "voluntarily depart."

      is not true for whole categories of non-citizens, for example those subject to "expedited removal" who do not receive a hearing.

      Human reason is beautiful and invincible --Milosz, Incantation

      by juancito on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 10:29:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  BREAKING! (0+ / 0-)

    American film with decent-sized budget turns out to be not all that realistic.

    Film at 11, starring Mel Gibson, probably.

    And now I know how Sarah Palin felt as the flames rose to her Roman nose and her Walkman started to melt.

    by TruthOfAngels on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 02:24:52 AM PDT

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