Monday, April 26, 2010

Green card

I might have been a late bloomer or maybe my parents had a little to do with it, but I didn't get my driver's license until I was seventeen. It was a big deal, practicing for test, especially the parallel parking. Even after taking a Driver's Ed class, I struggled to parallel park my tiny little Toyota Corolla. My Dad and I practiced in the school parking lot, he even made little cones with flags so I could see precisely when I would be backing into another car.

When I was finally ready, we went down to the local DMV in our small Georgia town. I was so nervous. I had just gotten my first job at an office supply store. I would finally have my own spending money, my only hope of procuring GAP jeans, and I had to get the license.

I was prepared for the tests, both written and road, and I had all my paperwork. My parents adopted me from birth while stationed in Germany, so my birth certificate is in German. There is an English translation, but it is literally a small book, so detailed the Germans are, so I brought along my naturalization papers just to be sure.

The woman at the window shuffled through my paperwork and then asked me to produce a green card.

"Excuse me?" I said. I turned to look for my father who was waiting clear across the waiting area. There was a line behind me, I didn't dare leave my spot.

"If you weren't born here, you have to have a green card." She insisted.

"But I am a citizen." I pointed to the naturalization papers, there I was at 2 years old, smiling in the picture, my mother with her seventies long hair, parted in the middle, holding me.

"I am sorry, you'll have to have a green card."

And with that, she turned me away. Because she didn't understand my paperwork. My perfectly legal paperwork produced by the U.S. government, proving that I was a citizen.

We left the office, no drivers test, no license. A few days later we went to the State Troopers office, where they did understand, and I took my test and passed with flying colors.

And that is why the new immigration laws in Arizona are so scary, because of the ignorant people who will be relied upon to enforce them.


Lisa said...

It's all so sad. Today somebody vandalized the Capital with swastikas and refried beans. Unbelievable.

Linda Pressman said...

If one group isn't safe then no one's safe. And, like you said, can we really entrust the discerning eyes of one government agent to understand the paperwork?