Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Thursday, September 29, 2011

devastated

They didn't let me in.

Dan stopped the process for my petition for immigration a couple of weeks ago, since it was going nowhere, and he was advised to do a certain set of steps, which he did, and which turned out to be wrong advice.

We pulled up to the border at Coutts, Alberta at about 7:30am. Dan arrived yesterday at the Edmonton International Airport around 3pm. We had a few stops to make for building supplies - we had to rig something up for the bed of the truck and a place for the litter box. What we ended up with was brilliant, and I will take photos of it and posted for another day. Basically Sam has her own cute kitty room behind the cab of the truck.

We finished building the thing and packing around 10pm last night. We had a very late supper with my sister and her husband. We pulled out of their driveway at 10:30pm. Dan hadn't slept in more than a day, and I had been up since early, so we were both really tired to begin with, but we really wanted to get moving.

I think it was around midnight when we hit Drumheller, about 155km from Edberg. Dan was sleeping, I was driving. I pulled over, because I was starting to nod off. Not sure if I actually slept at all, being we only have a standard cab pickup and there isn't much room for stretching out. An hour later, we were back on the road.

I think it was in Stettler that I stopped for coffee. Husky had Seattle's Best, which was actually pretty good. I was willing to accept drek as fuel, but it was a pleasant surprise.

We were about 30km away from the border when I pulled over a second time, nodding off again. The temperature was three degrees above freezing, so without the heat on in the truck and despite the blankets, it was cold. Again, not sure if I slept (probably not), but we woke up to a gorgeous prairie sunrise. Onward ho.

We pulled into the border crossing at 7:30am. The guy didn't like that we didn't have all the paperwork to import our vehicle. Didn't like that we didn't have any paperwork for my immigration. Especially didn't like that their sensors picked up radioactivity in my truck. Pull around to the back of the building, please.

Questions questions. Lots of answers. Filling out forms. Waiting for scans & sensors. It was around 8:30am that the most kind & compassionate border guard I have ever encountered broke the bad news. They can't just let someone in with the intention of immigrating without any paperwork. There are some options, including petitioning the border guard judge, but to wait a hearing would mean they would have to escort me to the nearest detention center for two to eight months. Um, no.

I was sick to my stomach. I had to excuse myself because I really thought I was going to throw up. Dan was livid with the person from the State Department in Charlotte, North Carolina who gave him this bad advice. (I didn't throw up, but things were sure churning). I couldn't keep it together, I fell apart in tears in the waiting area. Dan was on the phone with his mom making plans for our next step, a quickly devised Plan B. We will drive back to Victoria where I will stay with his parents.

The nice guard told me that it would be useless to apply for jobs because, with the Customs & Immigration people now knowing that I intend to immigrate with my husband, I would not be allowed a visa. In fact, I had my photo taken and I was fingerprinted, I had to sign a document saying that I would not attempt to enter the US until I have paperwork for immigration, on the understanding that I could be rejected permanently or even put in jail.

I was able to have some semblance of a sense of humor with the border guard. Why didn't you tell me you wanted to take my picture before I started crying? If I was put in detention, would I be able to knit? (I mean really, think of how much I would get done!)(Then again, after that story in the news about the person making an escape ladder out of knitting needles, knitting is probably forbidden in prisons. Better take up crochet.) He appreciated that I had a sense of humor, he said this doesn't happen often but it happens often enough to know he hates being the bearer of bad news. I empathized, I know he just has a job to do and rules to follow. We were misinformed and are now suffering the consequences.

They never did figure out what was radioactive in the truck. We were escorted back to the Canadian side, where the Canadian border guard was cheerful yet empathetic. I told her I was just rejected from crossing into the States. Among the usual list of questions is "do you have any firearms, knives, etc.?" to which I pulled out my key chain, which has a 1 3/4" jackknife (purchased for the express purpose of cutting yarn - seriously). She told me not to open it, or she'd have to pull out her gun. Dan chimed in "yes that could be seen as a threat." I told her "don't worry, I'd let you win." I can't help it. In times of deep stress or heavy emotion, I resort to humor.

We found a place to pull over back on the Canadian side and had ourselves a cry. What the hell are we going to do now? Neither one of us had slept more than a couple hours in the last few days. We were exhausted, overwrought, and had just been smacked in the face by the US government. Well, having evacuated my bowel at the border (not TMI - really, this tells you how stressed I was while we were there), I was hungry. We decided to drive to Lethbridge for breakfast (about 130km I think) and decide what to do from there.

Because we were both tired, we were thinking about getting a room nearby and taking a day to rest and think. But when Dan and I have been faced with big crappy situations, it is our nature to press on. So we did. We drove to Castlegar, where I am writing from this very moment. Caffeine and sugar have been our friends today. Sam kitty has been great through this whole thing. She loves her little room up back and she is now able to settle into sleep on the bench between us. SO nice not to have her MEOWing the whole time.

We will head back to Vancouver Island tomorrow. Dan will only be able to stay for a few days, then he will have fly back to North Carolina for work.

I hope Sam gets along with Yuki, the house cat.
I know I will be well taken care of  by my in-laws.
I will get to see all my Vancouver & Vancouver Island friends again.
I will have a reliable Internet connection.
(I will have access to four yarn stores)
I will be able to run, ride my bike, catch up on BBC programs (in-laws have DVDs of everything).
But I will also have to bust my ass to find work. I haven't worked now for three months and I need an income. I don't know how long this next step will take, how much longer we will have to wait.

The nice border guard did slip us some information that seemed like something that is not shared with everyone. He said that we can apply to the Passenger Chief at the port I plan to enter through for a Port Parole - this means that once my application for immigration has been submitted, I can be, if the Passenger Chief allows, temporarily admitted into the United States to be with my spouse. Cost? $71. Totally worth it.

So now Dan and I are going to bathe, eat our Subway, and probably crash. We're pretty knackered. We have both cried rather a lot today and will probably cry some more. But Dan just pointed out that there was something in the horoscope that suggested this. And I truly believe that something good will come of this - clearly the Universe or the powers that be think I have unfinished business in Victoria. Like trying all the new restaurants or something. We are sad, devastated, but not defeated. We know we can get through hardship because we have done it before. And it makes for interesting blog post reading.

11 comments:

  1. That's dreadful! So sorry that the process is going to take longer for you to be together. Hope things get sorted as soon as possible.

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  2. Oh my, what a horrible time of it. Yes, sleep and food will definitely help. LYS nearby will surely help. I don't know what words to offer except that you two seem like you have endurance, and that counts for a ton in this life.

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  3. i am so sorry to hear this. i get that they have rules for reasons, and I get that we have to follow those rules, but geesh, do they have to make something as potentially good as immigration be so difficult! I am saying a prayer for you tonight. Rest well...

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  4. Stacey, so sorry to hear this. I wish you the best of luck with the Port Parole. For now, time to catch up on some sleep. Glad you and Dan have the chance to see each other. Here's to your future border crossing!

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  5. I am truly so sad to read this as I know we only talked recently about your excitement to go...however I am a big believer in fate finding a reason for barricades to decisions which we think are right but later..turn out the best. I know it will work. Good fortune to both of you in your resolution.

    Also, your hair is so stinking adorable, so take comfort in knowing you were one of the prettiest ladies there today!!

    Always a positive right? Right.

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  6. fuck, that sucks. i'm going to come to vic on the 14-15th and want to hang out. xO

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  7. Goddammit, that's a pile of crap news. Sorry, Stace. I sincerely hope it gets sorted before December, but if you're still in Vic I'd get to see you! Not worth months of missing Dan, but it'd be happy for me.

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  8. I don't know if you saw my post on twitter or not, but you got a lot of responses so I thought I'd post it here as well.

    Please have your husband call JFON in North Carolina (http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/work/immigration/jfon/clinic-site-list/). This is a free immigration legal clinic run by the United Methodist Church. My husband (attorney) has volunteered for them in the past. They will be able to help you with true, free information.

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  9. We're praying for you that a solution can be found!! Please keep your faith. God really does work miracles! :)

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  10. Stacy, as someone who is the spouse of a man who obtained employment in the US. I sympathize. We had nothing but immigration troubles. In the end we moved back to canada because obtaining permanent status for me and the kids was going to be years, with potential separation for years. I do understand that immigration is a complex issue. But the rules need to be reviewed for ethical separation of family. Especially when it's been established that the family is of no threat to the US.

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  11. Immigration is one of the hardest things a couple can ever go through, with the expense and the time and your lives depending on completely on other people. I've been through it several times and just yesterday got my permenant residency - once I get citizenship next year, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll never have to do it again.

    One of the hardest things about it is that the complexities of immigration is never truly explained to you, you have to spend hour upon hour doing your own research to do it right.

    Online communities can be really helpful and provide good advice (though be warned it is the internet, so it may not always be correct). You might want to check out CanuckAbroad. Good luck!

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