Last night we had friends of ours over to visit and hear about their recent trip to the U.S. They managed to visit several cities and see lots of stuff in only a few weeks and their photos were gorgeous! E and I listened attentively to their stories and impressions of the States and I was so happy for them that they felt welcome to America during their stay. No crazy immigration, customs stories. No racism poking its head into their trip. During these last few years, I've listened to many different friends talk about their recent experiences in the States and I'm always happy to hear that they were developing positive attitudes about Americans and the country. However, a little part of me remains insanely jealous. That these friends, while all intelligent, employed contributing citizens of Mexico were able to get travel visas without issue. And Edgar isn't. Then my anger turns towards the government. Not because we have borders, or that we "thoroughly" screen visa applicants (some more than others...). But that the U.S. government makes it so complicated and difficult. Having to wade through paperwork cascades on E's last visa interview left us spinning. It's a wonder we arrived at the moment of the interview at all.
But the whole process left me speechless. Countless examples of the government trying to make it absolutely as difficult as possible to merely come and spend tourist dollars. The filing fee is crazy high for most people wishing to visit. Then there's conflicting information about which form you need, and what supportive paperwork you need to present as evidence. The actual in person interview requires a trip to the embassy in a major city (which some applicants may have to WALK to) and another obscene amount of money to be, in E's words, "treated like a farm animal" once inside the embassy. Add to this equation that the paperwork is in ENGLISH. and not layman's terms either. What does the average citizen without an american girlfriend/interpreter do?
Hard to believe that with this awful experience a few years ago, we're almost poised to do it again. And we're the lucky ones. We have the resources to run around to complete the paperwork, pay the fees, arrive to the embassy. And I like to think too that we have strong enough convictions and characters to withstand the humiliation of the process and the possible rejection. I try not to be cynical about the U.S. government. I would love to believe that it's doing great things and helping lots of people. I love my country and all that it's allowed me to do, the priviledges it allows me in the world. But I can't help but begin to distance myself and feel rejected by a government that doesn't let me live the life I want. Especially since this life doesn't hurt anyone, doesn't break the law and aims to contribute to a better world.