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.


  1. You know, I decided that awhile ago because being angry just takes the energy a joy out of life. I have realized that the people who judge others because they don't understand the other person's view or culture are not worth my time and energy. Also, as for the racist and prejudiced idiots out there, I'm sorry if the only way to make theirselves feel good about theirselves is talking bad about another nationality or race, that is their problem and ignorance and I will not allow myself to stress on it after all, I can't change their perspective.
    You did great today and after crossing the border the few times I have, you have to be one very strong person to be able to deal with them on a daily basis! Don't let them get you down!

  2. Who knows maybe that CBP married a bad apple and got ditched after she got her greencard...either way you "one upped" him (does that make sense) when you decided to take the higher road. Those type of people who have that bitter attitude, cant be changed by seeing one of our lives and how we live in Juarez, and enjoy our lives and our friends we've made over there. It's going to take some little miracle in his life for him to realize it, and if he continues to be "close minded" & assumes thats how every multi-national marriage is then hes missing out on witnessing the Happy Endings!!! So there,,,,keep killin em' with kindness Emily, it always wins out! :-)

  3. Kudos to you for taking the high road. I'm just sorry that someone as nice as you has to be subjected to that level of ignorance. I find comfort in the knowledge that the world is constantly revolving and changing and that one day it is people like us who will have the upper hand. Maybe I won't be alive to witness it, but it will happen.

  4. Good for Emily. You are much stronger than me. I guess there has to be a breaking point of always being mad and choosing differently. Glad you are fighting back and keep killing them with kindness.

  5. After reading this and Cheryl's story, I've never been more grateful that when I enter Mexico it's by airplane. No awful questions, no funny looks. Everyone just assumes we're going there for vacation. You have my admiration.

  6. Ya know, I usually get sympathy when BP finds out I have moved to be with my husband but I did have one tell me that I wouldn't last 6 months, I'm still here 2 years later. I have complained before but mainly because my son was with me and at the time he was 11 and BP was using foul language talking amongst themselves in secondary and they were easily heard by everyone, it was inappropriate in front of a child, however it did not get me anywhere, they don't care really. Just ignore their lameness:)