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Amber Paulen

On Sadism and the US Government

When I imagined the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in Naples, Italy, I imagined it with a sadistic edge. I imagined the pleasure in the interviewer’s face at his dealing out a denial to Simon’s immigrant visa. But instead the man who interviewed told us sympathetically that we could not get it. Perhaps, then, the source of the sadism is further up in the American Government: it is the high officials who get the pleasure of other people’s pain. And I suppose this is simply because they don’t have to see the sufferers’ faces and do not put themselves in other people’s places, the people who must separate from their family for idiotic reasons.

Idiotic reason number one: living in the country with your U.S. citizen spouse while beginning the Adjustment of Status Process, then leaving the country after more than a year of living there for personal reasons before this process is finished.

My dad says that getting a 10-year ban from the U.S. for this reason is like getting a ticket for speeding. But I feel like getting a 10-year ban for this reason is like getting a ticket for speeding on a highway that has a speed limit of 25 mph. There is no logical reason for a speed limit of 25 mph on a highway as there is no logical reason for getting a 10-year ban from the U.S. when taking the only legal path open. The only reason seems to be sadism and a complex paranoia that the American Government has built its immigration laws upon.

The next step of this U.S. immigration process is for me to write a letter of extreme hardship proving that if I were to go to the States without Simon or if I were to remain in Italy, I would suffer “Extreme Hardship.” “Extreme Hardship” is defined as anything more than the “Normal Hardship” experienced when you are separated from the one you love. There’s a snarky line in Wikipedia’s page of “Extreme Hardship” that says if suicide was the normal thing people did after being separated, then “Extreme Hardship” would be anything more extreme than that. And certainly, as I dig up nasty ghosts of the past and put them to paper for some stoney-faced adjudicator, it feels exactly like that: what kind of suffering will bring you the most pleasure?


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