28 February 2006

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

For your consideration, some questions I had to answer twice -- once in writing and again during a personal interview -- as part of the application process for Legal Permanent Residence in the US of A -- the so-called Green Card.

I watched as our Immigration officer double-checked the list I had already checked off a few months ago. To her credit, we whizzed right through them. I kind of wish we'd examined each a little more closely, though.

First, Have you ever, in or outside the United States, knowingly committed any crime of moral turpitude or a drug-related offense for which you have not been arrested?

Turpitude. Hmm. Just a second. "Turpitude: n. Depravity. Baseness." I think I can answer no to that one. But it all depends. Seems to me that a lot of legal activities that nevertheless offend the Republican Party faithful might fall into that category. Could you be more specific, please?

Have you ever within the past ten years been a prostitute or procured anyone for prostitution, or intend to engage in such activities in the future?

Not that it's any of your business -- my wife's, maybe, certainly not the Department of Homeland Security's, considering prostitution is legal in lots of states -- but no, not in the past anyway. And I have no intention of doing so in the future, although I suppose I can imagine scenarios ... no, sorry. Never mind.

Have you ever engaged in, conspired to engage in, or do you intend to engage in, or have you ever solicited membership or funds for, or have you through any means ever assisted or provided any type of material support to any person or organization that has ever engaged or conspired to engage in ...

Enough, already! Get to the point, before my work permit expires.

... sabotage, kidnapping, political assassination, hijacking or any other form of terrorist activity?

Fair question. No. Quite definitely not.

Do you intend to engage in espionage?

I won't if you won't.

Have you ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party?

Are you serious? What if I was? Can I remind you of a little embarrassing episode in American history called the McCarthy trials? And are you aware of the nomination of George Clooney's "Good Night and Good Luck" for best picture of 2006? Does the ACLU know you're still asking this? As for "any other totalitarian party," good thing I'm not a Republican, eh?

Sorry. Just joking.

Did you, during the period from March 23, 1933 to May 8, 1945, in association with either the Nazi Government of Germany or any organization or government associated or allied with the Nazi Government of Germany, ever order, incite, assist or otherwise participate in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin or political opinion?

Officer Wynn, at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Charlotte, skipped over this one, apparently assuming that I'm not a war criminal who stumbled across the Fountain of Youth since skipping out of the Nuremburg scene.

Have you ever engaged in genocide, or otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion?

Huh. That's between me and the International Court of Justice. I know you don't recognize that International Court of Justice, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Have you ever left the United States to avoid being drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces?

I'm confused. I'm a Canadian citizen trying to get into the United States. In what universe could I have been drafted by the U.S. Armed Forces? What's that? I could be drafted even without becoming a U.S. citizen? Wait a second....

And finally, they saved the best for last:

Do you plan to practice polygamy in the United States?

Why, are you interested in making it a threesome? But no, I'm happy with just the one wife, thank you very much. Besides, I'm applying for residency in North Carolina, not Utah.

Incidentally, I was granted permanent residence status on Feb. 27, 2006. Officer Wynn, who conducted the simultaneous interview with my wife and me, seemed more interested in pictures of my wife's wedding dress rather than any arcane details of my potentially sordid personal political history. She was probably embarrassed the first dozen times she ran through those questions, but appears to be used to it now. Just following orders, I guess.

Also, I won't be eligible to vote for three years. So I'll sit out the 2008 presidential election. Drat. But look out, candidates. Come those mid-term elections in 2010, I'll be all over you.

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