From my British friend, yesterday:
So I’m sitting back in MLK. What a horrible day. Didn’t quite make it out of the country – almost, though. Got to the airport in time, got to the gate, and in conversation with an AA official, they casually mention that given my weird, unofficial-looking “denial” form I might not get back in the country, if it’s not actually a real denial (since my application would still be in proceedings). The plane starts to board, and I rapidly call immigration – go through the familiar 10-stage number menu till I’m finally on 15 mins hold to speak to a person.
The plane is still boarding. The computer tells me they have not yet made a decision on my application, and it takes 90-120 days from my Feb application. The person tells me the same thing. “But that can’t be! I got my I-94 with the denial on this weekend!” “No ma’am, that can’t be – they are only on January 1st applications right now.”
Obviously I’ve been imagining the whole thing, or else the impossible happened, the American government has made a mistake. With my name being called in the background, and 7 people on standby for the flight, immigration tells me they can’t help, dodn’t know what I should do – and to call Customs and Border Patrol to find out if they’d let me back in. I run over, change my flight to the same one tomorrow morning, and call customs. They are E-V-I-L. “I just told you what to do, ma’am”. It must have been in code, because I could promise she didn’t. Someone tells me later they can’t tell us what to do, in case we cite them.
After trailing every corner of SFO after my flight left, exhausted on 2 hours sleep, and so upset at the futility of it all, I move to “Special Alien Registration”, Customs, Downtown “referral immigration” and Security. No one can help, and worse, no one will give me the number of the center that deals with the denial/application. You are only allowed to fax them. I’ve faxed them every day, predictably without results. I fax them urgently – I cannot leave the country, and I cannot stay in it, because you think you have my I-94, but I promise that you already mailed it to me. Next, I can just see it, they are going to turn around and say they can’t process my application since they don’t have sufficient documents. They’ll I’ll have to open a bank account and get myself a gun too.
Anyway, simply put, immigration insists I have not been denied, and will know in 1 – 1/2 months, so I should stay here. Customs insists I have been denied, and have to leave immediately. If I make the wrong call, I won’t see this god-blessed land for 3 years. I either overstayed, or left with a pending application. Not only are the agencies not in sync, but they won’t let me make them listen to one another, and CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) insist it is a denial, and they are the ones who can let me in. Yet it is not a denial on the system, so the system cannot let me in.
Though there is nothing I can do about it, sooner or later I am going to be sitting in an office with 2 big men with moustaches and 10 guns each asking me who do I think I am ignoring American law and not being able to follow simple instructions, like they were today.
Just thought I’d update you all.
I think I’ve aged 10 years.
Love you all, my wonderful wonderful friends. Thank you for everything, and maybe see you tonight.