Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Welcome to America'

A few weeks after I received my greencard in the mail, I received “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants.”

What they send you is actually just an abridged version in a 4-page flyer. To get the complete guide, you have to visit a government web site. I considered doing that, just to see what the Urdu or Tagalog versions look like, but I am a bit offended they do not offer a Swedish equivalent.

Reading the small flyer makes me wonder what kind of people the government really gives greencards to. There’s advice on “Getting Settled in the United States” like how to find a place to live, how to get a job, how to find an English class and how to prepare for emergencies.

Now, if you do not have a place to live, why – and more importantly, how? – could you apply for permanent residency status? That’s the most ludicrous one, to me.

The brochure also advises that “you should not move permanently to another country” (Well, duh!), that “each person has an important role to play in his or her local community” (say what?) and that if you do not have a computer at home, “you can use one at your local public library or at an ‘Internet Café’” (to print the entire guide).

Reading the “guide” makes me think they should have just given me a greencard when I set foot on American soil at John F. Kennedy Airport back in 1998. I had a job, a place to stay, and I knew how to call 911. I had access to a computer AND I knew where the library was. I also spoke English, which is more than you can say of most people who come here (and end up staying).

So, remind me, why does the U.S. government make things so difficult?

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