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Every once in a while I would stand up from my plastic chair and try to elicit more information from the immigration officer behind the bulletproof glass. But he ignored my pleas, each time reciting the same response: "When we have something to tell you about your boyfriend, miss, we'll let you know."

In a situation like this, may I just say, there is perhaps no more feeble-sounding word in the English language than boyfriend. The dismissive manner in which the officer uttered that word indicated how unimpressed he was with my relationship. Why on earth should a government employee ever release information about a mere boyfriend? I longed to explain myself to the immigration officer, to say, "Listen, the man you are detaining back there is far more important to me than you could ever begin to imagine." But even in my anxious state, I doubted this would do any good. If anything, I feared that pushing things too far might bring unpleasant repercussions on Felipe's end, so I backed off, helpless. It occurs to me only now that I probably should have made an effort to call a lawyer. But I didn't have a telephone with me, and I didn't want to abandon my post in the waiting room, and I didn't know any lawyers in Dallas, and it was a Sunday afternoon, anyhow, so who could I have reached?

Finally, after six hours, an officer came and led me through some hallways, through a rabbit warren of bureaucratic mysteries, to a small, dimly lit room where Felipe was sitting with the Homeland Security officer who had been interrogating him. Both men looked equally tired, but only one of those men was mine;my beloved, the most familiar face in the world to me. Seeing him in such a state made my chest hurt with longing. I wanted to touch him, but I sensed this was not allowed, so I remained standing.

Felipe smiled at me wearily and said, "Darling, our lives are about to get a lot more interesting."

Before I could respond, the interrogating officer quickly took charge of the situation and all its explanations.

"Ma'am," he said, "we've brought you back here to explain that we will not be allowing your boyfriend to enter the United States anymore. We'll be detaining him in jail until we can get him on a flight out of the country, back to Australia, since he does have an Australian passport. After that, he won't be able to come back to America again."
FROM: Marriage Around the World
Published on January 13, 2010

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