The stage was set. The Immigration Judge gave us this date at my last hearing. It was supposed to a warm and fuzzy weekend, with my U.S. citizen partner and I flying out to San Francisco from the East Coast to attend the short ceremony. My family, from all over California, had promised to take time off from work, to come to the hearing and see me getting sworn in as a lawful permanent resident. I had submitted my tax records, underwent several biometrics and fingerprinting sessions, and proven that I posed no health risk to the country by undergoing a thorough medical exam. I was ready to get my green card.
Alas, true to its grinch nature, the Office of Immigration Litigation and the Department of Justice broke our hearts for Valentine’s Day.
Now, I don’t need a green card to operate normally. I don’t need it to graduate from law school. I don’t need it to get sworn in as an attorney. And I certainly don’t need it to get a job. I don’t need to be legal for any facet of life in America. I need a green card so that I can leave this country without forever facing separation from my immediate family.
I have absolutely no use for American citizenship unless I want to commit crimes and vote for the lesser of two evils.
I’m sure I’m not different from many people without immigration status who aren’t aspiring to be American as much as they simply want the opportunity to go back home without facing a ten-year bar from ever seeing their relatives again. Immigration advocates with their nationalistic fervor have made it almost shameful for people like me to admit that we don’t crave citizenship.
I crave freedom of movement. I desire the chance to get to know my roots. I want to serve my country and my people. I need to heal from the trauma of being brought here. But mostly, I just need to see my home before it is ravaged by climate change.
Yet, the stigma is sometimes more overwhelming than the deep sense of loss. The voices taunt and berate:
“How dare you live here and not love America?”
“How dare you betray the sacrifices of your parents?”
“How dare you even consider life somewhere else?”
Grunt. I am 28-years old, hold three different degrees, pay my taxes, take care of my own housing, and don’t owe anyone, besides myself, any answers.
Even if I don’t deserve a green card, I do deserve to be free to go home.
I’ve tried to leave. So many times. As a teenager, I ran away from our house in Hayward, California but I didn’t know where to go. So I had to come back. When I got a little older, my poor mother, who is a legal resident by way of her mother (a U.S. citizen), bribed me into staying and finishing graduate school by saying she would pay for it if I stayed but would not support me if I left. So I stayed. When I decided to go off to law school in Canada, the U.S. Embassy in Fiji got in the way by providing false information to Canadian authorities.
I decided enough was enough. That’s when I applied for a green card, compelling the USCIS to either grant me legal residency or place me in removal proceedings. With luck and charm, they chose the latter. Alas, my misfortune is such that the government doesn’t have the damn cojones to go through with it. It’s quite pathetic.
So, I’m still stuck here, reeling from 14 years of post-traumatic stress, without a real ability to heal unless I leave. And the people around me are stuck with it too. Bless them.
I’m afraid that by the time I do get the chance to go home (and it is really a matter of when at this point), it won’t be home anymore. It will take a long time for my broken heart to heal from the reality that there is no place on this planet that feels like home.
Maybe I am forever doomed to be an alien. Maybe I’m stuck searching for home in people, rather than places. And maybe, that isn’t such a bad thing.
Next Master Calendar – October 10, 2013 – Fiji’s Independence Day.