Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Under Suspicion.....

When my green card expired at the end of the summer I muddled around for a bit. Got taken to the cleaners by one official-sounding site, after which, greatly chastened, I found the official site of the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services and duly submitted my application, along with the hefty fee.

Several weeks passed. Then, one day in the mail, instructions arrived for the next step in the process. I was to proceed, on a certain day, to the Immigration offices, one and a half hours south of where I live. On the appointed day, I drove there, mapquest printout clutched in my sweaty palm, making sure to arrive in plenty of time for my appointment, so as to avoid the dire consequences of "failing to appear."

I was docile and obedient and filled out their silly forms with information I had given them a hundred times before; sat, without causing a disturbance, until my name was called; allowed the fingerprinting technician to repeatedly roll my fingers back and forth on his state-of-the-art equipment; looked straight ahead, as instructed, while my picture was taken. I was very well behaved. Nobody observing me would have attributed to me any criminal tendencies.

Less than a week later, the Immigration Service informed me by mail that the FBI was unable to process my fingerprints. Oh joy.

"It will be necessary," they said, "to have your fingerprints retaken."

They assured me that this would be accomplished at no additional expense to me. Except of course my time, and the considerable distance to be traveled, since fingerprints taken at the local police station would not be acceptable. [Though why the hell not is beyond my feeble ability to understand!] Still, considering the consequences that would ensue should I fail to appear--"Your application will be considered abandoned and denied," I thought it best to show up.

One month after the first appointment, I motored again to the Immigration offices and had my fingerprints retaken. Chatting to the technician and joking about how we might be having a date every month, since I didn't anticipate that my fingerprints would look any different this month than they had last, he told me that it is not uncommon for the fingerprints to be unreadable. Criminals sometimes sandpaper their fingers to render the prints unidentifiable!

I have lived here for thirty nine years and have always watched my Ps and Qs. And now, in the twilight of my unremarkable existence, I am under suspicion, because my fingerprints are not acceptable to the US Government?

And the retaken prints? Also unreadable. No rocket scientist had to put in overtime to predict that!

Yesterday's mail brought more communication from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services [working hand in hand with Homeland Security, the same people who require us to remove our shoes before being allowed to board a plane to anywhere!]

I am now instructed to submit, in lieu of my unclassifiable fingerprints, "law enforcement clearance letters from every place you have lived during the last ten years........for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check."

Wait! There's more! I must accomplish this within 87 days. ??!!%&#! Or they will

1)send me back to Ireland in disgrace for having such criminal-looking fingerprints?

2)Arrest me and lock me up with the rest of society's misbehavers?

I know these are tough economic times. I know the government wants to provide employment. But they surely don't have to get idiotic about it. I am insulted! It's enough to make me turn to a life of crime.


persiflage said...

Oh good grief. How ridiculous! Don't they keep any of their old records from the last 39 years, and don't they have data transfer arrangements with any other official departments?
Sounds to me that they are just being officious instead of efficient, and if this is the sort of thing they spend so much time and effort on, it makes you wonder about how well they can preserve homeland security.
Bah! Humbug!
Good luck with it all.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

This is the Land of the Free? Innocent until proven guilty? Government of the people, by the people and for the people?

It's enough to drive one to believe in all those Conspiracy Theories.

Good luck with your fight against stupidity, paranoia and stupid paranoia.

Be assured that when they interview me, I shall say that you always appeared normal to me and I never guessed that you were actually a master criminal. :)

Ali Honey said...

I like Lone Grey Squirrel's sense of humour. Yes Good Luck with your FIGHT!

That all sounds totally bizarre !

Warty Mammal said...

This is Kafkaesque. Wow. Not that I'm surprised, mind you, but I am horrified.

Wishing you the best of luck -

Pauline said...

And why, exactly, do you want to stay here? Poor America has become the land of the misguided and ill-advised. I'm with Lone Grey Squirrel!

Anonymous said...

suspicions confirmed, I say! :)

your loving S-I-L.

Pearl said...

You must be kind -- this is the Government you are working with here. They have quotas of ridiculous-ness to fill...


riseoutofme said...

To Connaught with them all!

Come back to your soggy roots where you shall be Queen.

Thimbleanna said...

Well, hey, would it be the end of the world if they send you home? (Family excepted, of course.) Hmmm...Let's see....(holding my hands in front of me)....Ireland...FL...Ireland...FL...I know where I'd love to live LOL! Our gov't is too freakin' big and this is what they get for it!!! Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Like you , I've lived abroad all my adult life and seem to have left my inky fingerprints everywhere . But it's never enough !! . Could it be DNA samples soon ?