Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Be The Change

The line was long this morning. It’s been long all week. It’s always long, I suppose, but this week has been a little ridiculous. This happens once in a while. The last time I remember it being like this was when U.S. troops killed Osama Bin Laden and CBP was making an attempt to tighten security in preparation for any possible backlash or terrorist attacks. I’m not sure what’s going on right now and I’ll probably never know.

With that being said, after being in line for over 2 hours, I wasn’t really excited to see that they had found some sort of contraband in a car a couple of places ahead of me. I have a feeling I would normally welcome this type of event because it was pretty interesting, but today I just wasn’t feeling it. It took another 30 minutes or so to tear the dude’s car apart and handcuff him and take him away. I kept myself busy watching Khloe & Lamar clips on the new E! app on my phone and soon enough I was next up to bat.

When I saw the CBP agent gesturing back to the stop sign I was parked behind, I knew he was one of the grumps. I could tell right away that he was giving the person a hard time because when they were next up to cross, they hadn’t stopped far enough behind that stop sign. I’ve gotten a talking-to about on multiple occasions. Oddly enough, it’s always in those 2 center lanes. Whatever. I could tell he was either in a bad mood, or just a jerk, so I decided before pulling forward that I would kill him with kindness.

I handed him my passport and said, “Good morning,” with a huge smile.

Anything to declare?

No sir.

What was the purpose of your visit to Mexico ma’am?

I live in Juarez.

How long have you lived in Juarez?

A year and a half.

Where are you going?


Do you like it better in Juarez?

Do I like it better? I don’t like living in Juarez better than living in the US, but I like living with my husband better than living without him.

How long have you been together?

7 years.

That’s a pretty good amount of time. It’s a shame though; you’ll never know what he’s really in it for. Everything can change once he gets that green card. You know how it goes. Everybody has a friend of a friend of a friend that got conned into a marriage for a green card. I really hope that doesn’t happen to you. Anyway, have a nice day.

Wow. The sarcasm in the "have a nice day," stung right there at the end.

It took me a second to realize that this man just basically said that my husband will most likely leave me once he can legally come back to the US. I was so shocked that I forgot about those stupid speed bumps in the two middle lanes and had already slammed into one before I had the burning desire to get the officer’s name and badge number. It was too late anyway; I was really late to work. Other fellow expats that cross the border regularly are always telling me their horror stories of disrespectful and overly invasive officers, but until today I had yet to feel offended. The idea that this man felt it was acceptable to say something like that to me blew my mind. It wasn’t long before the anger faded to pity, though, and by the time I got to work, I was pretty much over it.

While I feel really bad for people that make assumptions and think like this officer does, I see that I can’t blame them for their ignorance. I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times someone I know from the immigration forums has been abandoned by their spouse right after his/her Visa was approved. It’s true. Those bad apples ruin it for the rest of us, and are the ones that cause people to develop a lot of the negative opinions they have about immigrants. This is beyond unfortunate though, because although I may have heard of one marriage scam too many, I have heard of hundreds more stories of thriving, multi-national marriages. Multi-national? I’m not sure if that is the right way to describe us, but it seems to fit the bill in my mind.

I did not file a complaint because I decided that it just wasn’t worth my time or energy. This is where I have a little inner-struggle going on. Whenever I “just walk away” from an ignorant person now, instead of trying to educate them, I feel like a bit of a failure. I feel like I am letting down my fellow expats and immigrants alike, and allowing these injustices to continue. At the same time, I know that it is pretty unlikely that my complaint would result in changing this officer's perspective, or make him more respectful towards border crossers. That’s where it gets complicated and even more so, disappointing. Trying to change the world or the way people see the world can be pretty tiring. I spent a good 5 years of my life signing petitions and going to protest rallies and Googling immigration cases for several hours every day, trying to find a loop hole in the law that would result in Raymundo being able to come home. No dice. It only seemed as though the more I fought for change, the more bitter and angry I became. I will never get back those 5 years of my life and I never want to go down that road again.

Maybe I’m the ignorant one for not taking a stand, or making a big uproar, but being angry exhausts me. I think today I finally decided that I am not going to be angry anymore. From now on, I’m going to take a different approach at trying to change the world.