Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Immigration Adventures

I never expected my husband to ever meet the INS, but it’s a different world we live in, now. On the way home, Glenn had his own immigration adventures, even though he’s an American citizen, LOL. He cooks on a processing boat in the Bering Sea that holds about 200 people.


Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses desperate enough
To take on crappy jobs at crappy wages
That even unemployed American deem 
        beneath them.
Then when the work is done,
Get the hell out of the country.

They tend to get a good amount of legal immigrants in the processing factory on the boat (the company is very strict about making sure papers are in order), so it’s normal for a two or three Coast Guard and INS officials to board the boat every couple years, set up in the galley, and go through everyone’s papers. 

BUT, the Somalian pirate thing happened. There were Somalians on board. You can make your own deductions about that.

imageAnyway, as soon as they were off the coast of Seattle, a whole TEAM of over a dozen INS and Coast Guard officials boarded in full swat gear, with sawed-off rifles and yelling and everything. They ran through the halls and cleared everyone to the deck.

Everyone had to wait up on deck for hours as they searched every inch to make sure no one was hiding. Men with guns paraded both the upper and lower deck.

Instead of going to the galley to interview each person and double check their papers, they did it up on deck.

image In the end, they were stuck outside for most of the day, and one American (an outstanding warrant) and three Somalians (papers didn’t match) were arrested.

Considering the company runs a background check and triple checks papers before hiring, I personally find it suspicious that of all the countries well-represented on board, ONLY three Somalians had unmatching papers during the Somalian pirate incident.

I don’t like it. I know that our freedoms and rights are balanced by our safety. It’s a gray area, but I’m definitely more comfortable on the edge of freedoms and rights. In a black and white world, if given a choice, I’d choose human freedoms and rights over my safety any day.

Does Bush’s legacy still live on?

22 bonus scribbles:

Anonymous,  4/21/2009 01:11:00 PM  

Trust me, if the papers of any other alien 'didn't match' (not sure what, exactly, that means...doc fraud is pretty common though) the ICE agents would have hauled those little kippers off as well.

one of your regular commenters who needs to remain anonymous in this instance

spyscribbler 4/21/2009 01:16:00 PM  

LOL, Anonymous! Is it ICE? I don't know much. :-) I believe you're right about that. What I fear is that the Somalians' papers "didn't match" because the government didn't want them to match, you know?

PS: I have no idea what "unmatching papers" means, either! LOL!

Travis Erwin 4/21/2009 01:22:00 PM  

Very interesting and as you say suspicious. Thanks for sharing this story.

Bevie 4/21/2009 01:31:00 PM  

I'm inclined to agree with Anonymous, but I think you have a good point, Spy. I'm just cynical enough to believe that is it.

I do, however, wish to take exception to the cartoon's caption: To take on crappy jobs at crappy wages That even unemployed American deem beneath them.That perpetuates something which just is not true. Generally, most companies are like the one Glenn works for: they run careful checks to make sure all employees have a legal right to work in this country.

There are, however, a percentage of companies which will knowingly hire illegal aliens. This knowledge allows them to hire these people at sub-minimum wage. The employees can't complain because they're illegal.

The notion that Americans won't take these jobs is a fabrication of the press. I have taken some of them myself, and I know other Americans who have been forced to, as well.

I realize it's funny to most people. Just not to the American poor.

Just so you know.

spyscribbler 4/21/2009 02:24:00 PM  

LOL, Bevie, I agree with Anonymous, too. I'm not sure our points are mutually exclusive, but I'm pretty sure I didn't make mine clear, LOL.

And I agree that many Americans work these jobs. Hence Glenn working on a boat thousands of miles away from home. :-)

The percentage is really not a fabrication: about 75% of the people who work on the boat are refugees and immigrants. Everyone gets paid by the same standard.

And about the government letting them stay until the work is done, in this case it's ironic (not really funny) because it's true. The Coast Guard had everyone's papers since they day they left dock in January. They waited until the VERY last day when they were home and the work was done--four months later in April--to board.

I don't know why it suits the government to do it this way, but it seems to. It must be profitable for them, but as you point out, not at all helpful for the Americans who want this sort of job. (Although right now, there are plenty of openings.)

Bevie, I do understand your frustration. I was livid with McCain when he said Americans don't know how to work.

I just also believe that refugees and immigrants get a raw deal. We are all immigrants here, really, except for Native Americans and Mexicans.

Edie 4/21/2009 02:55:00 PM  

Right now people would be happy to take a lot of crappy jobs. That would be better than nothing.

I'm so glad McCain isn't president. Obama is cleaning up the mess Bush left him, but he can't do it all at once. And even he won't do everything we'd like him to or maybe he'd like to do.

Anonymous,  4/21/2009 03:06:00 PM  

A law went into effect in either 1987 or 1988 whereby employers were obligated to review documents that proved right to work. However, I can tell you from my own experience that the review of said documents is not done by anyone who would or could spot a fraud. So it is, in essence, practically useless despite many compliant companies trying to do the right thing. don't assume the supposedly vetted Somalian or other nationals were actually legal just because 'someone' checked their documents.

I don't think the agents acted suspiciously. They could, perhaps, have been more humane and not kept the crew on deck all day, though. That's the thing that seems like it's really draconian. Whatever had a swat team boarding a seagoing vessel like that must have been pretty good intel. Who knows *shrugs* one of the people hauled off may have actually had terrorism ties.

The problem with getting this heresay or even observing it with uninformed eyes is that we just don't know what was going on.

This was a full-on raid, it sounds like; so the officers were no doubt tense, abrupt and even if polite enough probably came across as threatening as hell. They were expecting trouble. Why? It's anyone's guess. But I bet you could file a Freedom of Information Act request and get some information!

Amy Sue Nathan 4/21/2009 04:33:00 PM  

I have "a thing" about feeling safe, about being safe.

I want safety for myself and my children -- and think that in many ways that comes with a price tag sometimes. The price of terrorism, piracy are higher.

But that's me. In a lifetime where I feel my safety has been shattered, my opinion may differ from that of the management. ;-)

Eric Mayer,  4/21/2009 04:39:00 PM  

No excuse for such behavior. That's the way things are done in police states. You can't give up your rights every time these guys find some excuse to tread on them. The excuses never end. It doesn't surprise me that Somalians wouldn't have proper papers since Somalia is not really a functioning country.

Lisa 4/21/2009 07:57:00 PM  

I too am not impressed with some of the measures that they've taken for our 'freedom'.
Taking shoes off at airports, not allowed to bring liquids through . . .they've made flying a seriously painful and unpleasant experience, or I should say MORE so, as I already hated to fly before!

Robin 4/21/2009 09:18:00 PM  

I feel bad for Glen, because I would have been really scared. What's so bad about Somalians? They're nice, and they don't eat very much. We have the room.

Bevie 4/22/2009 08:42:00 AM  

"We are all immigrants here, really, except for Native Americans and Mexicans."

They're immigrants, too. They just got here ahead of everyone else.

Fear is how we lose rights and never get them back. Most of the time we're afraid of things that aren't even real. Certain politicians and groups prey upon our fears, and feed them with exaggerations, misinformation, and flat out lies.

I agree in part with Anonymous. However, I tend to be less forgiving because I am not convinced it was just intelligence which generated this. There are hints of politics in this.

Melanie Avila 4/22/2009 09:44:00 AM  

Spy, this is interesting. I don't really have anything new to add, but I'll be following along and will pipe up if I think of something.

And yeah, it's ICE.

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 10:49:00 AM  

Edie, this is true. A surprising amount of people don't, though, which I find odd. One of my friends said her husband was willing to take any job, and when we offered to get him a job on the boat, it was a definite no. LOL. I don't blame him, for sure. It's tough to be away from family.

McCain as president would have been horrible.

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 10:53:00 AM  

Anon, the weird thing is that there would be no reason to suspect trouble. None at all. And like I said, they had full knowledge of every passenger aboard for four months.

And given that it's an American company with legal refugees, it seems to me like breaking into your house with a swat team to make sure your driver's license is in order. Even though it's a certainty that you have no weapons.

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 10:55:00 AM  

Amy, why do you feel your safety has been shattered? We Americans are pretty spoiled in that regard, it seems to me.

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 10:56:00 AM  

Eric, I agree. It was a little adventure for Glenn, but I woulda been mad, LOL!

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 10:56:00 AM  

Lisa, the measures are extreme. And the constant selling of "you're going to be attacked unless you give up this right/freedom" drives me nuts.

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 11:42:00 AM  

Robin, I think he rather enjoyed it. Reminded him of his Special Forces days or something. If they'd taken an hour longer and he'd missed his flight, he woulda been mad, LOL!

We should definitely let the Somalians in!

spyscribbler 4/22/2009 11:44:00 AM  

Bevie, I agree with you completely about fear. And sadly, it seems to be an extremely powerful motivator when it comes to politics and people voting. It's how Bush did all he did.

And I smell politics in this, too!

Caryn Caldwell 4/22/2009 01:53:00 PM  

Wow! How scary. I'm glad that he made it out okay, but now I'm wondering about those four who were arrested. While they may indeed have been guilty of something, it may be a racial thing instead, and I can't help but think of the Japanese internment camps we had in America during WWII. Many of those held were American citizens, and their only crime was that they were descended from Japanese (or sometimes even Chinese) people, yet they were shipped off "just in case". Because, you know, that's going to make them feel SO friendly toward America and make them want to protect the country, so it's not in the slightest bit counter-productive at ALL. *insert eye-roll here* Sheesh!

Anonymous,  4/24/2009 08:20:00 AM  

There are always politics involved to a greater or lesser degree when things like this occur. What you guys don't realise is how much the Administration limits reasonable searches within the country for illegal workers. So, you can pretty reasonably assume that there was some good reason for this particular decision. Because such a raid is expensive in time and manpower.

And while I don't disagree that these measures are draconian (they are) I do have to say that the proper execution of raids with proper legal authority is a necessity. However like in the 70s when the IRS was conducting raids (and got slapped for it) we can presume that the various agencies might be getting high handed. It bears examination. Without the public outcry and examination their view of reasonable becomes jack bootted thuggish.

And as for Somalis not havign proper documents, the paperwork they are supposed to have would be issued by the US. Visas, permanent resident cards, that sort of thing, all issued when they arrive as refugees or applicants for residency. If they don't have that, they are wrong. And they are supposed to keep it with them.