My Chilean friend is concerned that she will be deported from Spain. She has lived here legally for the past few years but now is realizing that her papers will not be renewed. Last night, I shared a drink with her and two other immigrants. We could have spent days discussing all the pain we have endured in trying to remain legal, but I had to call it a night in order to rest up for another marathon day of immigration bureaucracy. I left the conversation greatly saddened for my friends, yet immensely grateful that I had the backing of Spain’s most influential school and a multi-billion dollar corporation, greatly reducing the difficulty of renewing my papers.
Even with these heavy hitting supporters, I have spent countless days standing in queues, trying to obtain some miscellaneous stamp or initial which prevents my deportation. On Saturday I flew in from London especially to obtain my Regreso, a document for residents with expiring residency cards. I arrived unusually early for my 9:45 appointment and found two lines stretching around the block; apparently I wasn’t the only person with an early morning appointment. The line eked forwarded until 11:00 when an overweight security guard came outside, lit a cigarette, and told the other line to go home and return mañana. I don’t know why he sent away the other line, but my line rejoiced, as many had been advised multiple times to return mañana.
Despite my elation for being admitted entrance, I felt horrible for the hundreds of people sent away from the government office. Many of these people with their children in tow took a day off work, a day they couldn’t afford. Many of these people will face deportation if they do not get accepted to enter the building one of these days. Even if it happens, it is probable that they will not have gathered the correct stamps and signatures and will be told to return mañana.
I am lucky with the support of IESE and Amazon. I am lucky that if I get deported, I get sent to the United States. I imagine that the burka clad women crying on Paseig St. Joan aren’t this lucky and will continue standing in line each day until they get past security. It is tough to be an immigrant.