Sunday, July 09, 2017

When I Was From thoughts on Greencard Warrior by Nick Adams

"Where are you from?" a friendly old man asked me in a Walmart in Minnesota, circa 2005. "India," I said. "Where is that?" "Near China. In Asia," I said assuming he knew where China was. "You are not Asian," he said, still smiling. "Yes, I am." "No. I don't think so. You are not Asian. I know a lot of Asians," he said, not very friendly anymore. This was annoying. I suspected he was concluding that I was an illegal immigrant not ready to reveal my home country. "You are from Mexico, right?" "Yes!!" I said with a smile and walked out not sure what to make of the bizarre conversation. This was one of my first experiences of being a foreigner. I later realized I did look Hispanic :D

In the book Greencard Warrior, Nick Adams is an Australian who faces immigration challenges that can thwart his career and financial standing in the US due to a visa issue. Though the book is entertaining and partisan (Nick is a conservative commentator), it mostly details the procedural issues. It has some interesting drama due to alleged mistreatment of his case by a liberal Vice Counsel in Australian US Consulate.

But for high skilled immigrant applicants from countries like India, these procedural issues are ten times harder and cause huge unexpected changes in life. A recent example is of a neurologist couple and their family who lead a well-settled life and attend to hundreds of patients are asked to leave the country on a short notice because of a documentation error in their immigration papers. They have been living in the US for 15 years and have been stuck in the Greencard backlog for a decade.

One of the good things about the book was to bring to the notice of the Trump administration, the bureaucratic issues with the legal immigration process. Hopefully, this is addressed soon.

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