Feb. 5th, 2017

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From experience, it takes:
1) Money.  A green card application and the biometrics interview cost $1070 all told.
2) A lawyer.  You can do the process on your own without a lawyer, but the reams of paperwork you have to fill out to apply are confusing.  I’m overly educated, used to complex documents, and my first language is English.  I *still* needed a lawyer.
3) In part that’s because, during the application process, if you want to leave the country you have to get dispensation from the courts.  Which costs more money, and I seriously could not have made head nor tail of that process without my lawyer.  Your parent is dying?  Too bad.  The court has to say it’s okay to travel.
4) A sponsor.  You must be sponsored by a citizen family member or your employer who will vouch that no American can do your job.

5) Patience.  This process takes a long time.

6) A biometrics interview.  I was fingerprinted, had my retina scanned, and had my photo taken. If, for example, you’ve dyed your hair since you filled out your application, they will quibble with you about whether your application is accurate.
7) A background check.  On your application you testify that you haven’t been involved with terrorism or genocide and immigration services has to corroborate that.  They will also check your employment history, where you’ve lived, etc etc.

8) More patience.

When you get your card, it’s the size of a credit card.  You know how credit cards have a magnetic stripe on the back with your information on it?  The back of a green card is *entirely* magnetic stripe.  Your entire life history is on there.  Your green card application also has to be updated every ten years.  So you don’t just get one and then get to do whatever you like.  You also have to update immigration services any time you move or you’re in violation of your green card arrangement.

If I had been prevented from returning to the U.S. after a visit to my country of origin while on my green card I would have been left without a) a place to stay, b) money, c) reliable access to my lawyer, and d) my job in the U.S. would have been in jeopardy, thereby threatening my ability to pay for my housing, car, and other bills in the U.S.  I would have had no infrastructure, because I’ve lived in the U.S. longer than in my country of origin (23 years as opposed to 22).  And that’s not even taking into account that many, many people with green cards are trying to escape abuse, torture, and threats to their life in their country of origin.  Their physical and mental safety is in grave danger.

Trump’s act suggests that green card holders are NOT already vetted within an inch of their lives (patently untrue) and that it is at best an inconvenience to people to not get back into the U.S. (again, completely untrue).  It is a monstrous, fear-mongering act of security theatre rather than anything that will make the country safe.

And I forgot the medical exam!  You have to have a physical, given by a UCIS-approved physician, which is sometimes covered by insurance (if you have it) and sometimes not.  You also have to provide records of your immunizations (which was hard enough for me, and my doctor’s office was still open and able to make copies (for a fee) - imagine if you’re fleeing somewhere under duress).
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Spread this around; remind the world that for every Nazi, there’s an entire train full of sensible people capable of basic moral behaviour. 



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