Tag Archives: immigration

Letter Writing Campaign

It’s been almost eleven months since the KoD and I were married. 11 months where we have spent maybe 70 days total together.  We are both beyond frustrated that we are not yet able to live together under the same roof. We started the application process to procure visas for myself and for my sons to move to the States soon after we were married. We were told it would take a maximum of 5 months. We have been in touch with the offices of the local congressman, and more recently, our local Senator, Charles Schumer. We have been told we just have to be patient and wait our turn.

I am reaching out to you, my readers, for your help. Those of you who live in the States could really be of assistance. If we get enough people to write to our Senator mentioning my case (I would supply the text) and asking for this to be looked into it might be enough to expedite matters so that we are reunited as soon as possible.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Do you want to help us out? This would be a tremendous mitzvah. If you wish to have the opportunity to partake in this effort, post below that you wish to join. Then please send me an email to InThePinkBlog@gmail.com including your full name and email address. I will then forward to you the text of the letter to send to our senator. I will ask that you not share these details with anyone else. The more people that you can ask to join us, the better the outcome will be.

Thank you so much, from me, the KoD and the princes.

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Profile of a dangerous person?

I said goodbye to my KoD this morning, tucked my heart into his pocket, and began the 6 hour trek back to Montreal, to my babies. Ahem. Sorry. My big boys. My Boybies (that works for me).

The drive went really well, I didn’t even cry when the mushy romantic songs came on the radio. Took a concerted effort, but I did it. The roadwork has been finished up, so there was no going slow…the weather was perfect and I made excellent time.

I get to the US / Canada border and they have closed it off except for one booth a few yards before the usual line of booths at the Lacolle border crossing. It seems they are prescreening cars before allowing them to get to the regular border crossing booths. There is a much more obvious presence of border guards than usual.

No problem, I have my landed immigrant card, my passport, I do this a bajillion times a year. Piece of cake. Right? Noooo.

The cars ahead of me showed passports and sailed through. Initially the border guard did not take my passport from me. Started asking me the regular questions. All was fine until he asked me who I had been to see. I said my husband. Then he asked for the passport. He started quizzing me on the status of my marriage, who lives where, how often we see each other. Meanwhile his cohort was walking around my car peering in windows etc.

They asked me to pull over to the side, ma’am.

Who owns your vehicle? My neighbour.

Your neighbour lets you drive his car? Yes sir.

What does he drive? One of his other cars, sir. I have a letter authorizing me to use this vehicle, sir, would you like to see it?

I also told him he could check in the computer that I cross the border all the time with this car. He did so. And I was right. Wow.

Then he asks me, why are you not driving your own vehicle? I so wanted to say “because you idiots won’t let me drive my brand spanking new Town and Country Touring minivan with US plates into Canada (More info here) so it has to stay in our garage in Monsey collecting dust, and I have to drive this freaking rust bucket that’s older than I am, just so I can see my husband. That’s why the freaking hell I am not driving my own vehicle, rectal orifice!!” But instead, I replied sweetly, “because I don’t have one.” (May God forgive me for the lie, but I wanted to get out of there)

The guys were pounding on the panels of the car, looking underneath it, in the spare tire, pulling my suitcases apart. Looking in my make up kit, holding my excedrin bottle up to the light.

“What does your husband do in the states?”

“Where did you meet him?”

“What’s his name, address?”

“What company does he work for?”

“How much money does he give you?”

“What’s his salary”

“Did he give you anything to bring back?”

“How much child support and alimony do you get?”

“Where are your children?”

“Why did you leave them for the weekend?”

“Who has custody of your children? Prove it” (I carry my divorce and custody agreement with me whenever I cross the border)

“What’s your profession?”

“How do you pay the bills if you are a stay at home mom?” I answered “with difficulty”. He left it alone, smart man, because I was about to get ugly up in his face. They then started in again on the immigration questions. What? My answers were going to change?

Then I unwittingly caused some trouble for myself. I raised my left hand to smooth back my hair. My engagement ring caught the sun. They spent five minutes quizzing me on the provenance of the diamond on my finger. Do I have proof on me where it came from? Uh…no. Who carries that with them? If I was smuggling diamonds would I be so stupid as to wear it on my finger? They looked at my other rings too. Asked about those as well.  Asked what the pendant I wear means. I wear a gold letter “Hey” (fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet that starts off my name) that my great uncle made for me decades ago. No certificate of provenance for that either.

I was shaking. I knew I had nothing contraband on me, nothing I shouldn’t have, no drugs, tobacco or alcohol. No weapons. I was coming back into Canada, my home for the last fifteen and a half years, and they made me feel so very guilty. Of what, I have no clue. I was sweating and shaking. They had me standing by the side of the road for nearly 30 minutes while they quizzed me back and forth, both guards with hands resting on the butts of their weapons. They had a team go over the car. I know they were just doing their job, but come on, I so do not fit the profile of a terrorist or a drug smuggler. I am just a mom. That’s it that’s all.

Eventually they let me go. I had to sit in another line of cars for 30 minutes until I finally was able to cross the border. By the time I crossed I had calmed down. But now I am on a slow burn. Why did they pull me over? Did I fit a certain profile? Was it anti-Semitic? Why did they start to freak out when I said my husband lived in NY and I live in Montreal? Is this going to happen now every time I cross the border? Am I red flagged? Do I dare do the border crossing thing again? I am so sick of this back and forth, and of the border sagas. It’s time for those flippin’ visas to come already.

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Immigration Update

As you know we have been waiting for visas to be issued in order for us to move to New York to live with the KoD. Legal permission to move the kids has been obtained, the only obstacle has been waiting for these visas.

The KoD and I have been married now for over 8 months, and we sent off our papers as soon as we could after the wedding. It’s been months of form filling and more form filling. We did our medicals, and applied for police certificates and did everything that has been asked of us.

All we have been waiting for is an interview date. We have been told that we will be granted the visas at the interview, or within a day or two thereof. Every day I go to the mailbox hoping for a letter with the interview date. Every day I get disappointed. Every day I try to hold it together, as being apart from the love of my life is really tough.

The KoD is as impatient as I am, and getting answers from the consulate when you are a private citizen is next to impossible, even though you have paid mucho dinero to apply for your visas. So KoD decided to contact his local congressman and see if he could do something to help us. Couldn’t hurt, right?

A member of the congressman’s staff made some phone calls and wrote some emails. He really worked hard to get us an answer. He wrote the KoD today, enclosing an email from a senior consular official.

It’s not awesome news, but at least we know where we stand. There are hundreds of people ahead of us in line, and he reckons that we won’t have an appointment for another two to three months. That brings us into January / February of 2010. Basically to a year after our wedding. Ouch. But the truth is without the congressman’s staffer’s intervention we would have no way of knowing when. While I am sad (ok crying big hujungous buckets of tears) that I have to wait another couple of months, having a time frame helps. It also helps to have had confirmation from this consular official that we have qualified for an interview, that there are no papers or forms missing, and that we are in the queue.

Mixed blessing I guess…..now to tell the kids….oy….

Thank you to my darling KoD for doing all you can to get us down there with you. We love you and miss you.

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Immigration Update

Now, now,  don’t get all excited. I have no date. I did however get a letter in the mail this morning from the US Consulate which I had hoped contained an interview date. It didn’t. However, it shows my application is at the right place. (She grits her teeth and repeats her mantra “silver lining, silver lining, silver lining”)

Now, in order to get an appointment I have more forms to fill in (oh joy), send back, and THEN they will send me an appointment date. According to the website that the awesome KoD found, the processing times from when they have received all this new information until Visas are issued is 42 days. Which means at least two months until we can move. (She grits her teeth and repeats her mantra “silver lining, silver lining, silver lining”)

Now, I wish they had told me what stuff I would need earlier so I could have gotten hold of it and had it all ready to send back straightaway. I ran around today getting a police certificate / criminal background check done. They asked for long birth certificates for the kids – did that round the corner from criminal check place. I had to use a service in the UK for a police certificate for when I lived there up until the age of 21. Hopefully all of this stuff will arrive within the next two weeks. They make you sign a checklist that you have all of these things. I will have to do more passport photos for the kids, I moved up the medicals to next week so they can not only bleed me dry financially but physically too, I have to prove that I have somewhere to live in the USA – not hard, I have to prove the kids have somewhere to go to school – I have acceptance letters,  KoD has to provide his financials, I have to provide marriage and divorce certificates, passports, birth certificates, proof I have custody of the kids and am able legally to move them. PLUS the five forms they ask to fill out online and print out the confirmations and send them in. Piece of cake.

I am exhausted and half broke…all these certificates cost money and the service for the UK was extortionate. What choice do I have? It’s an investment in our future. All donations welcome 😀 (She grits her teeth and repeats her mantra “silver lining, silver lining, silver lining”)

I am hoping to be able to send off the package as soon as possible. I just want to be with the KoD already.

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Immigration Update

It’s good news. We heard just before Squiggy’s barmitzvah last week that our immigration had been approved. It was something the KoD saw online – he checks the USCIS website daily, and he saw that the status changed from “pending” to “approved”. He received the official letter yesterday.

So he called the National Visa Centre to find out more details. Our file was delivered yesterday to the US Consulate in Montreal. We have to wait now for us to be given an appointment. We have been given NO indication how long a wait that is, but we are hoping that it is quick. I will try and speak to a human being (as opposed to the automaton on the phone system) today at the consulate to see if I can get an answer.

Thankfully it is all moving forward, as it should. I have started the big clean out, the giving away of unnecessary items, am making decisions on what furniture I am shlepping and what I am selling / giving away.

The delay in moving IS frustrating, but I am channeling all of that energy into packing up the apartment and raising my boychiks. These are good headaches to have. BH it is not a question of IF we move, only of WHEN.

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Threatening Borders

 

I seem to have issues with crossing the USA/Canada border. It was just a short while ago my vehicle was refused entry to Canada. Friday morning I was again detained at the border – this time entering the States.

 

As you know I have borrowed a car from a friend, my neighbour Mr CarMan. I have a signed letter from him giving me permission to drive it into the States, I have the registration and insurance documents. All 100% above board and kosher.

 

I took the littlest prince to school on Friday morning and drove the 45 miles or so to the border on the way to go see my KoD for Shabbat. Luckily there was hardly any traffic and I made good time. There was one car in front of me as I pulled up to the border. It was 9 am.

 

The border guard takes my passport, asks me the usual questions. Then he asked me whose car I was driving. Now, I am sure some people would lie, but I can never remember my lies, so I don’t lie. It’s just so much safer that way. As soon as I said I was driving my friend’s car he started acting all suspicious. “Does he know you have his car? Why did he lend you his car?” The dude must have asked me ten times where I live and where I was going – like my answer is going to change?!

 

He walked around the van, opened the trunk, opened my suitcase and started going through my things. I felt violated. I know that he has a right to do so – anyone entering the states can be searched. He then directed me to drive over to the office building and park in spot number 2. There were 2 agents waiting there for me, and by the time we had entered the building I was surrounded by 5 agents. I guess they found skinny little me very threatening!

 

Now usually when I go into this building I use the immigration side – to fill in a form or what have you. It’s not scary just time consuming. This time they took me behind a high partition. And once again, it was training day at the border. And once again, they were learning on me. Nice. Which meant every question and answer was analyzed right in front of me.

 

They had me fill out a customs declaration form. As I was filling it out they asked me the same questions over and over and over again, the same way, phrased differently etc. I finally asked them what was going on. I just wanted to understand what they were worried about. I was told that they had the right to search me and my vehicle to ensure I wasn’t carrying anything into the States that I wasn’t supposed to. They made me empty my pockets, turn them inside out, they went through my purse, emptied it all out. Went through my stuff with a fine toothcomb. They asked how much money I had – I told them the truth – not very much. Then they asked if I was bringing in 10,000 dollars or more in cash or merchandise. No. Am I taking any articles for resale? No. Do I have any illegal drugs? No. Did I bring gifts? No (I’m a cheapskate lol). Who am I going to visit? Family. Which family? My husband. At this point I was worried that they would start making immigration noises – you know, like have you applied for residency etc. Nothing. Nada. Zip. They were not interested in that. Just if I was drug trafficking.

 

At this point I was shaking. I know I had done nothing wrong, but they make you feel guilty and just so violated. I guess finally they decided I was who I said I was, that I was not a threat to national security, and they allowed me to sit down. They made me turn off my PoisonBerry  so I couldn’t even text my KoD for him to know I was detained. (Or for him to soothe me and comfort me and tell me it will all be ok).  There was a young lad who was sitting there after being pulled off a bus that was on its way to Albany. They apparently didn’t like the allergy medication they found in his bag.

 

While I was sitting there they were ripping Mr CarMan’s van apart looking for who knows what. But of course I couldn’t see that. I had to just sit there staring into space and not appearing nervous. They finally asked me for the permission letter from Mr CarMan. They gave it a cursory glance and returned it. Gave me my papers and by 10 am I was back on the highway going south to see my husband. I stopped at the first rest stop to clean the car back up and to stop shaking. Finally I was able to calm down and drive the rest of the way to Monsey without incident, B”H.

The Power of Prayer

 

 

Last week on Thursday we left Montreal for Monsey just for the weekend. Having started the whole immigration process we were told that it was quite possible we would NOT be permitted to enter the United States. Once a name is in the system, I guess they are concerned about us moving down illegally and living there without being given the USA immigration seal of approval. (It’s the people that do it illegally that could ruin it for the honest folk).

 

I was advised to bring proof that I have a life to come back to in Montreal, and hopefully that would help in allowing us into the country for a few days. So – how do you prove you have a life to come back to?

 

I prepared well. I found the copy of my lease – however, my lease was written specifically for the first year that we lived in the apartment. The way it works here is that your lease is automatically renewed annually UNLESS you give notice. Therefore, in order to prove I still have a lease, I asked my lovely landlady to give me a signed letter stating how long I had been a tenant, and when my lease is up, and that I had the option to renew. I had bills with me that had just been received in the mail – proving I live where I say I do. I had a letter from my attorney. I had a letter of permission to take the kids and bring them back from their other parent. I had a letter from Mr. CarMan allowing me the use of his vehicle and when I had to have it back by. I had proof of upcoming appointments for me and the kids here in Montreal. I made myself nuts getting all of this information together, but I wanted to be as prepared as I could be.

 

I had explained the situation to the boys and told them that I had done my Hishtadlut (due diligence) and now it was up to G-d. I also told them that while we were driving to the border I needed them to say Tehillim – psalms, in order to boost our chances of being allowed into the States. I also repeated border etiquette. Do not speak unless spoken to. Do not volunteer any information other than that which is asked of you. Do not lie. Look the agent who speaks to you in the eye – take off your sunglasses in order to do this. Do not joke with the agent.

 

We grabbed a bite to eat before we left. We got into the car and I said Psalm 91 aloud. A friend had told me that it was a good one to say – the Hebrew letters for 91 spell out the word “tzei” – which means “go out”. I had the boys then open their Tehillim and say all the psalms for Thursday (each day has a group of psalms to be said for it) as I drove towards the border. My oldest also said the Tefillat Haderech – the prayer for safe travel.

 

45 minutes later we were at the border and my stomach was in a knot, my hands and legs were shaking. I gave the kids and myself a pep talk. “It’s all in Hashem’s hands. Whatever He decides is what’s best for us”. I gave it into His capable hands and I had to trust it would all be for the best. The kids were still praying as we got to the Border Guard’s Booth.

 

There were four open lines and all booths were empty. We picked one and when I drove up I saw there were THREE guards there as opposed to the usual ONE. Gulp. This didn’t bode well. I had the passports ready and had easy access to all the other papers I had with me. I handed over the passports and held my breath. It soon became obvious to us that this particular guard was a trainee as his superiors in the booth with him were telling him what to ask, or what they would have asked. He had wanted to ask me why I was travelling alone with my kids – and where their dad was etc, but he obviously had no experience asking that. I helped him out. I told him we were divorced and that I was the custodial parent. I gave him the permission letter. He was being fed questions all the while. He scanned through the passports. No beeps or alarms went off.

 

He proceeded to ask me all the standard questions – am I bringing in $10,000 in cash (I wish), any drugs or firearms, any articles for resale….., and after 3 minutes that seemed like 30 he returned our travel documents and waved us through. No awkward questions, no making me sit in a back room while they grilled my kids (yes I had imagined 100 different scenarios) – he waved us through.

 

We drove for 30 seconds then I let out a HUGE whoop of joy followed by a tremendous release of tears. The kids were so excited and thrilled. I had one of them immediately text the KoD to tell him we made it, and then we called one of my Montreal Mommies (Lucky me, I have a few!!) to say we made it into the States safely.

 

I told the kids, and I firmly believe I am right, that their prayers helped us get through. I know that every time until we get the visas there is going to be a chance that we are turned back – but I am prepared for it. Maybe the computer didn’t pick us up yet, or maybe they saw that I come and go often and can be trusted not to stay illegally. I don’t even want to know the why. I am just accepting it and am thankful to G-d.

 

G-d was definitely watching over us that day as He is everyday. I am glad He didn’t test me, though, by having us turned back. I wonder how I would have done.