Thursday, June 7th it finally came. The letter Blanca had been waiting for for nearly a year now – her interview appointment with the INS. We were excited beyond words…granted it was about two months later than we had hoped, but it finally arrived and we knew July 3rd was the day. According to what we had been told, she would take the test, and assuming she passed, she’d take her oath on the 9th of July. We thought we had it all figured out. We’d expedite her passport application the 9th right after taking the oath, hopefully have the passport by month’s end, then immediately apply for the visa. I’d head to Spain mid-August, and she’d join me as soon as she got her visa, sometime around the end of August…not too shabby…except for one minor detail – the INS happiness spies.
They must be everywhere, these spies. We had already been through so much torment, so naturally the feelings of elation were nearly inexplicable when the appointment date was finally handed down. I rushed home from work that night and we dusted off the study materials and went over the 96 practice questions gleefully – she’s got them down. We could hardly sleep that night as all we could do was think and discuss our next steps to prepare for the journey ahead. All the while what we should have been doing was bracing ourselves for the blow that was to come.
It started with a phone call from the house of reps office just following up on a call I made a few days prior. While sharing the good news with the woman, I was blindsided when I started rambling about our plans. She started with, “Oh, you know what, the courts actually decided to cancel the July oath…so Blanca will have to wait until August to do that…” My initial reaction was silence, as I tried to stomach what I just heard, but quickly I fired back “can we just drive somewhere else, anywhere, to take the oath?” The response, “No, Fresno is where she applied and where she lives, she has to do it there…I really don’t know why they cancelled, it isn’t normal.” Well, I couldn’t talk much more, but I hung up and tried to pull myself together to make the call to Blanca. Don’t forget though, this is only where it started…
A little later, after sharing the bad news with Blanca, I began to settle down. As I was absorbing our new situation, I got a text from Blanca that said simply, “They cancelled my appointment.” Confused, I immediately called her and she answered fighting back tears explaining she just received a letter, the day after the appointment letter. This new letter had only two lines that essentially said, “We regret to inform you that your appointment dated July 3 has been cancelled. We will update you with changes to your status as they become available.” No explanation, no new date…nothing. So, this is what leads me to believe there are INS happiness spies all around – because they must have heard our elation the day before and decided to put an end to it ASAP…can’t go making people happy or anything, that would just be wrong.
My immediate response to this news was to call everyone I could think of – The governor, my senator, the department of homeland security, etc. But as usual, after calling all these places I was left with no answers and basically a bunch of fingers pointing nowhere. The general response from everyone was that I’d already done all I could do and ultimately the INS pretty much only answers to themselves. So much for checks and balances.
So here we are, almost a week from getting all the news, and we don’t know where we stand anymore. I finally purchased my ticket today (Compliments of the InternationalStudent.com video travel contest!), I’m flying out of LAX on Sunday, August 12th and will arrive in Barcelona on Monday the 13th at 10:40am. I would be lying if I said this didn’t make me happy, because it does, but it comes with mixed emotions…it was a single, one-way ticket. I’m going alone and will be alone for who knows how long.
It is hard to stay optimistic in a situation like this – being essentially at the mercy of a government agency who holds so much in the palm of their hands. Do they really understand the influence they have on people’s lives? Do they even understand that they’re dealing with human lives? Do they understand that because of their actions, they have the power to keep my wife, the woman I married, apart from me for what looks like at least three months at this point? Do they understand that the days that followed their letter my wife was sick, vomiting and unable to move from the bedroom? Do they have the slightest inkling that this is just one person’s story, and I’m confident there are thousands upon thousands more in the same situation?
Anyway, I apologize if this post was a downer, but it would be difficult to make it otherwise. I remain hopeful that things will work out for the best in the long run. If I really want to start my positive thinking now, I could say at least in this situation I’ll have the opportunity to get settled into my new learning environment without any distractions (not like my wife is a distraction, but you understand). I’ll be able to learn a little about my surroundings while picking up a little Spanish so I can be a good tour guide and impress Blanca when she finally joins me in Barcelona.
As before, I’m still waiting for word from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and expect a response sometime in the next two weeks. Win, lose, or draw, I’ll make a post as soon as I hear anything. Additionally, as things change with Blanca’s status, I’ll likely come here to vent or share the good news. Until then, it’s now two months until the day I set foot in Spain and one month til I’m done with my job…things are happening, so stay tuned!
“Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair.” – George Burns