Friday, January 26, 2007

You Can Tell A Lot About Someone By They Shoes

Lunch times during my BarBri class were a bit like lunch times during the UN School on The Critic. All of us were either from another country, currently dating, or had previously dated someone from a foreign country. Since we were studying law - a lot of it irrelevant and rooted in another country's (England, I'm lookin' at you) - we frequently became engrossed in discussions on comparative law and policy. (Partly because it is fascinating, especially when there are first-hand perspectives at the table, and partly because anything, ANYTHING, is better than your fifth PR practice essay of the day, or the prospect of returning to a meeting room and filling out another 100 MBE questions)

My friend Avi, who's off doing fascinating things like trying war crimes cases in Africa (makes your job seem boring, no?), frequently discussed the ways in which economic policy dictated the entire tenor of a place. The value placed on the movement of goods and currency determined familial relationships to an extent largely ignored except in overlooked column inches in the FT or WSJ. Despite attending a college where such things were discussed and acknowledged, I largely ignored - and continue to - the ways in which public policy infects and directs our daily lives.

But then there are the really compelling reminders that jump up and smack you in the face. What smacked me today? Two words: Premium Processing.

Yes, for an extra $1000 or so, you can get that foreign worker here faster. You cannot, however, pay extra to get your spouse, fiance, child, mother, or sister in any faster.

Now, in many ways, that's a good thing. Though I have a feeling that with enough money, you can grease all government wheels, I don't want immigration processes to become a means-game where the rich get reunited and the poor get (more) screwed (than they already are).

There's enough CMC and latent conservative in me to understand why a strong economy is important: why we need to poach qualified workers from elsewhere, or reward smart, able, necessary people with faster entry into this country.

But goddamn it, I'd be $10,000 if they added an expedited process option to I-129Fs as well as I-129s. Without the F, we're, uh, well, F-ed anyway.

Back to my original point: we base a lot of family law - foster care and adoption - on the preservation of the family unit. And, to be fair, immigration policy also prefers familial ties over basic interest in becoming American. But it isn't enough. It isn't efficient. It is barely tolerable. And I'm only at step 1 and maybe a half.

I wish we could reprioritize things.

Alternatively, I wish I had moved in with Sandra in Vermont. Kids, don't live in California or any of about half the territory of the United States, because man, is that visa service center impacted. And from what I hear (this probably means little to the uninitiated), two USCIS have closed to I-129F (fiancee) and I-130 (spousal) visas and are now re-routing all applications to California. That leaves little Vermont to fly through applications and process people faster. Thanks, USCIS. Thanks. I only hope I squeaked mine in under the wire in California.

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