Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Monday, May 31, 2010

Regular Guys Trying to Make a Living

Outrage was triggered last week by the closure of a bakery and catering business accused of employing illegal workers in San Diego.  ICE has not only indicted the owner for questionable hiring practices, but is in the process of seizing the business.  The attorney involved sputtered, " "The forfeiture laws are made for crack and methamphetamine, not crème brûlée."

But which of those products would you rather keep in your evidence locker?  And besides, most Americans think that meth is produced by natural-born American citizens in the survivalist sanctuaries of Idaho and Montana.  Just goes to show how out of the loop one can be.

The LA Times, which reported the story, made no mention of erstwhile customers weeping on the sidewalk in front of locked doors, but it could come to this.  A good French caterer is that hard to find.

At the opposite end of the country, another eatery remains closed while the proprietors try to come to grips with the definition of "marginality."

Finally, every consular and immigration officer's favorite Simpsons episode is the one in which ISN (at the time) takes away everybody's favorite Quickie Mart proprietor in chains.  An outraged Marge cries, "I don't know why they're picking on Apu!  He didn't do anything wrong except break the law!"

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Not Over 'Til ...

 A well-known American woman was released from a foreign prison earlier this week.  In a few days, some sources say, ministers will meet to decide if she must stay in her host country for the remainder of her sentence, or if she will be deported back to the US.

Guilty or innocent, freedom fighter or terrorist, she is no longer on the list of prisoners to be visited four times a year.  If you Google her name and "consular" you will enjoy a veritable feast of conflicting opinions about the visits that consular officers have made to her over the years, and who in the rest of the world was impressed or not impressed by those officers' performance of their duties.

We don't do our jobs for thanks.  We do our jobs because they are our jobs.  We visit the guilty, the innocent, the lost, the confused, the defiant, the terrified, the truly evil all equally, and share our attention and compassion equally with them.

To all those officers over the years who visited this American, delivered her mail, and treated her as decently as they would treat any other incarcerated individual who happens to be American, and never made the newspapers - not even the local ones - and never mind whether or not she or any of them was as patient, tolerant and kind to you as you were to her, we all owe you our thanks.  The headlines are already fading.  Close the file.  Your job is done.

Or maybe not.  She now might need a passport, an OCS trust account, a repat loan, a CRBA for her child...  Whatever she needs, a consular officer will provide it if possible.  It won't be over until it's over.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't Apologize

Have you ever been tempted to introduce yourself to a stranger - especially an American stranger, especially these days - by name plus euphemism rather than name plus job title that indicates federal employment?  Here is a recent item that might serve as a morale booster.  For more, follow the included link to the April 15 Washington Post article by E. J. Dionne.

Thanks, Charlie.  Thanks, E.J.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good Numbers

If you have friends, relatives or fellow commuters who want to talk (complain, rant, rage, gripe, preach) about immigration using Fox-quality figures, you might find help in DHS's immigration statistics.  Check out the cool data tables, quietly assembled over the years by individuals apparently impervious to shifting political winds.  Did you know that 8,385 people obtained US permanent residency in 1820?  Did anyone else?  Hands?  Didn't think so.  Great, great stuff.