An immigrant's fear


My British passport arrived on Sunday by courier. I looked at that thing in amazement for a while, speechless that the long and trying journey is finally well and truly over. I am a dual citizenship of the US and UK, but it didn’t sink in at first, that British bit. Now it has. The first thing I did was to inspect the binding, and to compare the two.


Above is the top of the US passport. It is a tiny case-pamphlet-binding with a soft spine and a simple stitch in the center fold. The UK passport, below, is the same, although the stitching is tighter, neater, and doesn’t appear to be glued down at the top and bottom. The US chose blue and white thread, while the UK uses red, white and blue. What I find hilarious is that while the interior of the US passport is all about how great America is, the UK passport is all about the weather (note the little symbols in either corner).


The second thing I did was to reflect upon what toll the immigration process has taken and what this passport really means to me.

It means I no longer have to live in fear of deportation, or worse – the denial of my application for leave to remain or citizenship — for having expressed a political opinion. (Believe me when I say, I have opinions.)

There isn’t anything in the immigration rules that I’ve read to suggest that one’s political stance will be held against you — yet. But they’d like it that way and I remain unconvinced that it would not stand against someone if they were caught protesting either in person or online. It’s now hard enough to get here as it is, and in order to stay here, we’ve got to behave.

Well, I have behaved. Now what?

Now I can say things like David Cameron is no better than George W. Bush. I don’t know enough about UK politics to know who Cameron’s boss really is, like we all knew Bush really worked for the military industrial complex/corporation. But I do know he’s done this country no good whatsoever and it’s obvious he cares about the people of this land not one tiny bit at all. It’s almost impossible to tell who he cares about, other than himself. He even upset those monsters, big business, by telling the EU to piss off.

And look at this: Britain will suffer a much worse recession than previously imagined but it will not be as bad as in Europe, leading economists forecast today. Stop lying! Britain is already in a recession. From the same article: “Official forecasters are even placing their hopes on a bout of snow to help the UK.”

And people think I am wacky for believing in magick and studying old grimoires!

We have no idea what to do about the situation so let’s hope a blizzard comes along to solve our problems for us… What?

Now I can say that Britain is a debt-hungry country. Britain pushes its people into debt, it pushes the people who want to live here into debt — my total immigration bill came to around £4000.00. In US dollars, today that figure roughly equals $6219.00. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to scrape through without a solicitor. Had I needed legal assistance, I may as well have gone back to the States. As it was, we just recently finished paying off the credit card that got me through it. And I’ll be honest with you — it wasn’t even my credit card, it was my husband’s. I could have never have afforded that amount without… going into debt. Which, as a couple, is exactly what we did. Britain likes debt, because it depends on the interest evolving from that debt. If everyone was debt-free, this country would collapse in on itself.

So how does that work? The country itself is in debt, and in order to pay that debt it relies on the debt of its citizens. Economic logic is much wackier than I could hope to be. What am I talking about — the words “economic” and “logic” do not even belong together.

Now I can say “I told you so” to anyone who thought Obama was actually going to change anything. I did say that back when he was running for office the first time around. I was, I kid you not, called a Nazi for expressing an opinion that was hugely unpopular. What now? I get that it’s nice to have hope, but that’s all the man was able to offer, and I suggest now as I did then that we stop putting our hope into puppets and instead put it into ourselves.

Now I can say shame on you, America, for bludgeoning and gassing the people you are sworn to protect. This one boils my blood to incoherency. People are starving out there and you decide to waste money by bringing out enough police to take over a small nation? Nothing new there, then, eh?

And finally, now I can say these things, period. I have been into debt and back and I’ve kept my mouth shut. I was a good little citizen-to-be, for Queen and country, for the love of my husband, but mostly, because I was scared to death of losing everything I was working so hard to achieve. I understand that one must pay for the very real privilege of being British, trust me I do and I have paid. But shame on you, UKBA — no one, and I mean no one, should have to live in fear.

This is the tip of an iceberg that has been growing for a long time. One day I may calm down enough to present my political opinions in a more reasoned manner. Or I may not! First I need to get past the mind-blowing relief of being able to express them.

  • Aria Nadii

    That is one seriously expensive passport. Congratulations on the dual citizenship and my sympathies to you both for having incurred such debt.

  • Erzebet

    Thank you. The debt has been paid (in more ways than one!) and I will never do that again. :)

  • Rolf Granlund

    Wow… sad is it in these times of trillion dollar deficits that 6,900 dollars doesn’t sound all that much? I know it is but it seems like that if a number doesn’t have at least 5 zeroes after it it doesn’t register.

    Despite this I am still hoping to look into dual citizenship with Finland…

  • Keecia Buster

    Congratulations, and I’d be very interested on hearing an opinion about the politics in Britain, so you’d have at least one set of ears.

  • Erzebet

    Man Rolf, what job do you have that $6K doesn’t sound like that much! :)

    Do your research and then file your application. I wish you best of luck!

  • Erzebet

    Thank you! I’m sure I’ll talk more about UK politics, but the first thing to know is that it’s a lot like a Monty Python film up in here.

  • Virginia

    Wait, when did you develop opinions?

    (Congratulations on your new split identity! Does this mean you’ll make your bacon sammies with streaky bacon?)

  • Erzebet

    I will never eat American bacon again. :)

  • Jason Erik Lundberg

    I love that your first action after receiving your passport is to examine the bindery!

    I had no idea it was so damn expensive to get a UK citizenship, and that the economy there is in such bad shape. But I’m glad that you now feel free to express your political opinions again; self-censorship is the most insidious and toxic kind.

  • Terri Windling

    Erzebet, CONGRATULATIONS on getting that passport — that’s an amazing achievement, and I know full well how much work and hope and faith it took to get there. Thank you also for this rant, which does my heart good to hear.

    As some who remains in the long, scary limbo of a complicated immigration process myself, I too know the “silence” one has to live in, being careful about anything you say online or do in public that could affect the outcome. (Even as I write this Reply, I am editing out many of the things I’d really like to say. Since you know our immigration situation, I’m sure you can imagine what they are!)

    And my dear, do count yourself lucky that it was *only* $6,900. It could, ahem, be a whole lot worse.

  • Erzebet

    Thank you, Terri. I do consider myself very, very lucky that it didn’t cost more, considering my mistakes. It was all worth it for a whole host of reasons, but I am utterly relieved that it’s all over now. That’s something for you to look forward to.

    And then you can rant with me! :)

  • Erzebet

    They really are adorable little books, passports. Under-appreciated bindings. :)

    But yes, they are costly little books if you aren’t born with the right to have one. That was the cost of my total route to citizenship, beginning with the fiance visa all the way through to the cost of the passport itself. Someone else’s mileage may vary. I would go so far as to say the whole road was a bit insidious. A very dark forest indeed.