my immigration situation is not unique. at least not in this country.
i moved to the dominican republic in 2004, and have been living here, paper-free, since then. i attempted once to complete the process for a formal residency, but when my papers were lost (please pay more) or expired (please pay more) or just plain not going where the needed to go (please pay more), i gave up. it was (and still is) an expensive process that wasn't necessary.
i had employment, health insurance and nobody ever bothered me. i paid an overstay fee each time i left the country. life was nice.
but not at all fair.
because at the same time that i held a job, without paying taxes, and gave birth in a government sponsored hospital and lived my life, other immigrants were being corralled into schoolbuses and driven back to the border. in the united states it was happening as well. dominicans, haitians, mexicans, guatemalans, illegally residing in my country were put on planes and shipped home.
but, complacent as i am, i continued to stay residency free. and i often condemned immigrants for traveling without their papers. such hypocrisy.
after amely was born in 2009, my government health insurance was revoked because i didn't have a cedula number - similar to a social security number in the states. that's fair, i thought, and instead of doing my paperwork, i just wished away sickness. luckily, i haven't been ill and i still have a job to pay for the doctors, right?
last semester, the north american teachers were sat down and informed that because of a new law, we needed to complete the residency process (or whatever) in order to continue working at the university. it was poorly announced and not well researched, but the idea was scary. the laws were changing and we needed to act fast.
so, earlier this week i wrote about my trip to the capital to get it done. i'm becoming a dual citizen. excellent. yesterday i had my interview. it went swimmingly (except the basic question of the founding fathers that i just couldn't answer!) and when the questioning ended, i asked.
what will happen in the meantime? what happens if someone asks for my papers? this new law has me a little shaken up - i don't know what to do.
and then, everything was put into the light. this new law is not applicable to my life, she says, because i am north american. and really what the country wants to do is alleviate the haitian problem.
of which, i am apparently not part. i think it's the same everywhere. we're not concerned about people emmigrating unless they are a threat. those who are different, those who we consider less than. less than us, less than they should be.
we make laws to keep Others out, people who we don't care for or don't respect. it made me mad that she said that. these laws don't apply to you because you're american. a gringa. we don't worry about you. we worry about those other Others who are poorer, who will ruin us.
i see the buses filled with illegal haitians in the city all the time. but i also see the barrios filled with deported dominican-americans and wonder if we couldn't just find a way for this to work, that nobody would be ruined in the end, that we wouldn't need to consider anybody an Other, because in all reality we all are Others.