Bumps in the Road
After a few days, totally exhausted by my work, I was ready to drop, but it turned out the work I'd done needed some revision. So, I stretched my resources a little bit thinner in an attempt to get this done. I was still hoping to slow down, rest, and be back to "normal life" before the middle of June. Then, the real bomb hit!
I don't feel right going into too much detail here, as other people are involved, but a family member had married a citizen of another country. This was a real marriage, but the United States insists on determining the validity of any such marriage, lest an immigrant somehow manage to stay here. Well, as I say, it was a real marriage, so no serious obstacles were expected. The family member in question hired a lawyer, just to get advice through a complex and annoying bureaucratic process.
Well, nine days before the hearing, the lawyer finally decided to do his job. He reviewed the records they had, what they'd done, etc., including items he'd refused to provide advice on earlier. Then, he told them that they had not handled things well from a bureaucratic standpoint, they didn't have all the records they needed, etc.
So, at the very moment when I was desperately needing to slow down and relax, I was faced with a need to help this family member collect records from another country, find specialised help that they needed, and so on. Each day offered up a new, unpleasant surprise. For example, the lawyer had told them to just find their own translator for translated copies of legal documents.
He had never mentioned the need to find a translator specifically skilled in translating legal documents! You can waste untold amounts of time trying to find someone with such a specific skill who is available at the spur of the moment. And, with everything that needed to be shipped back and forth, faxed back and forth, copied, etc. more hours were spent just running errands.
I got little sleep and a lot of stress over the next nine days. Even when I could sleep, I was too upset to do so easily. The possibility existed that the United States would, at the hearing, decide against the validity of the marriage, take my relation by marriage directly to detention, and then deport them, leaving their spouse to appeal later. (Yes, this is legal here in the "land of the free".) Due to the short notice, we felt that the best outcome possible was that they might be granted a ninety day, one time extension to collect any additional documentation they might need.
For those of you who wonder how this all turned out, I can give you a slight summary. The couple were not allowed to bring anyone else with them to their hearing, but I heard the story as soon as they were done. They found that the hearing officer was none other than the one person their lawyer had warned them against: someone who hated immigrants, tried to seek excuses to deport them, and took even an offer to shake hands as a personal insult.
Now, in addition, the lawyer had already told them that actually, fake marriages usually had an easier time being approved. The reason? They knew in advance what they wanted to do, knew all the rules, and followed them carefully. People who honestly fall in love don't plan things like that, so the record is less 'perfect'. So, naturally, they were very tense. In spite of that, the truth for once did come out: after interviewing them for a while, the hearing officer stated they had never seen a couple so obviously in love, and granted my relation by marriage permanent resident status! There is some possibility a superior could decide to review the decision, but we'll deal with that if it comes up.
Now, with nothing more I needed to do, I collapsed and could do nothing at all. I even found myself, the next day, falling asleep while standing up! I caught myself just as I started to topple... So I spent a few days doing almost nothing but sleeping. You might think that was the end of the story. No, there was one more blow to come. The family member in question also had to work, for one of the nastiest bosses I've ever heard of. He forced another employee to come to work even though they had the flu.
Well, that family member caught the flu, an easy target since they were exhausted, and since I was as well, I caught it just about the time I began to catch up on my rest. I'm slowly getting better, but this is a nasty flu, and the flu and I don't get along well at the best of times. So, I will slowly be returning to posting and visiting your blogs, but progress is likely to be slow. I need to stay rested so I don't get any setbacks. I've got a lot of things piled up I need to do at this point, anyway, and I can't afford to fall any further behind.
Please, take one moral from this story. Never trust a lawyer completely. I don't mean there aren't good lawyers; there are some. But, if you aren't a lawyer, you won't be able to tell the difference, and even a good lawyer can make a mistake. It is your life. If you need a lawyer, learn as much as you can on your own, and do what you can on your own, so if your lawyer decides to wait until nine days before your life hangs in the balance to offer good advice, you'll have just that little bit less left to do.
As for writers, there are legal issues to do with writing that could have a major impact on you and your rights. Learn as much as you can about them, and seek a lawyer who specialises in those issues, if you can possibly afford to do so, so that you can reduce your chances of being crushed by an uncaring system.