Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Day3: Immigration/Visas

Day 3

The South African Embassy issues all our travel visas without question! Last year UK Visas denied all our players visas to participate in the homeless world cup, because, well, they were homeless. The stressful encounter at immigration in Glasgow broke our way thanks to the purview of Gavin White, a customs official who had the courage to disregard his colleges, and put himself on the line to do what he thought was right. Gavin, if you still keep up with our site, know we are eternally grateful. Needless to say, I was overjoyed at the visas and was slapping our players high fives; none of them being on the team last year, they all looked at me as if to say, “who’s this goofball.”

After the south african embassy we took Cyrus’s Liberian travel document to US Immigration on 26 Federal Plaza to get a routine stamp that would allow him to return to the US (his lost green card is on reorder). Three hours after our appointment time they called us up. They took Cyrus’s passport in the back and didn’t return. Finally they only returned to tell us to have a seat for at least and hour, that they would call us. Any mere arrest, not even a conviction, would Trigger such a search, we later learned. In that moment we were just told that something had come up in his background. If you see the preoccupied look on Cyrus’ face in this picture, it’s the residual fright of a helpeless scare only an immigrant can understand, having your documents in someone else’s hand, knowing that you are held to a different standard than others around you, knowing that if they were not to hand back that little blue booklet and wanted to start deportation proceedings, your whole life would be turned upside down.

After spedning from noon until 4:45 in a the immigration waiting room, we watched the immigration official press a 2 month reentry seal down on the that little light blue booklet that he subsequently handed back to Cyrus. Cyrus had quite smoking a week ago in anticipation of the competition. When we got outside he stopped the first passer by, and handed him a quarter for a little white stick.

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