Friday, August 25, 2006



That, is the faux-cutting edge name for setting up a meeting with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at Federal Plaza. They could have said 'set up a meeting' but that would be simple, direct and effective - everything the USCIS certainly is not.

Let me give the end of this story away: I got so angry there, I started gesticulating and waving like a mad man and eventually got removed by security, doubtless confirming a few middle eastern stereotypes along the way.

The reason I sought an 'infopass' is because it came to my attention that the USCIS had fucked up:

August 8, 2005
Applied for Naturalization
August 10, 2005
Received a confirmation letter with my name misspelt: 'Nasser' instead of 'Nassar'.
Wrote them back asking it be corrected.
August 18, 2005
Received a letter with the name spelt incorrectly again.
Wrote back and asked them to correct it again.
August 25, 2005
Received a letter acknowledging mistake and correcting name
February 28, 2006
Naturalization Interview; passed
Was told my application was pending due to the FBI background check not being completed
Was told it could take a few months
July 14, 2006
Wrote my congresswoman asking her to intervene to find out why it was taking this long
August 1, 2006
Received a letter from the FBI by way of the USCIS..with my name spelt incorrectly: 'Nasser'
This may be one of the reasons why they're taking this long.

It's very distracting to try and focus on their discrimination when their incompetence keeps getting in the way.

Anyways, I booked an appointment for today at 10am. I waited for two hours (despite arriving on time) and when I got to the window, the black bitch gave me attitude like it was going out of style. So, naturally, I gave her some back.

I'm very good at it. When I'm distressed, I have a vicious delivery of scything one-liners designed to make the person they're aimed at feel they rank somewhere between a compost heap and the brown stains in your toilet, if you don't clean it with a toilet brush. It also absolutely guarantees the end of any kind of productive exchange.

I unleashed one of those, a torrent of snarling insults. She looked at me and said she wasn't even supposed to be helping me, because since I interviewed in Long Island, that's where I should go.

A fallacy.

1. Infopass schedules time and location with USCIS officials. They scheduled me here.
2. LI doesn't even have Infopass and they don't pick up their phones.
3. The USCIS helpline assured me that Federal Plaza was the main office, handling all naturalization cases, including Long Island.

I related point number 3 to her, punctuated by a flurry of barbs and disparaging, withering looks.

"They're wrong. They've been wrong before"
"I know that" I shot back. "They spelt my name wrong for starters and gave the incorrect spelling to the FBI"
"The name doesn't matter. We go by the A number here"
"Listen, Omarosa, it's called an FBI Name Check. If you don't know what you're talking about, get me somebody who does"
"I'm telling you what she's going to tell you. The helpline was wrong"
"You're both wrong. And I don't mean incorrect. You're just plain wrong. You shouldn't even be allowed to talk to people."
"I ain't wrong and you need to leave."

I demanded to talk to her supervisor who greeted me with the following statement:
"Sir, if you're going to be a citizen of this country, you need to learn to conduct yourself better"

Oh, hells no.

So I let her, and everyone within earshot, have it.

"How dare you? How dare you jerk me around like this for the better part of a year and then not even try and help. How dare you spell my name incorrectly, acknowledge that it's been corrected and then give the FBI the wrong name anyway? If you two would get your heads out of your asses and do your fucking jobs, I'd get out of here and you two can go back to napping on the job".

They called security. Security edged closer to me, one hand on their gun. Politely, but firmly, they asked me to leave.

I looked at the hand he had on his gun. What was going on? I struggled to compose myself and my eyes closed as I thought briefly. I opened them, looked at him squarely in the face and said:

"No. I'm not going anywhere until the two stooges in there give me what I came here for. That's my right"

Stooge A handed me a document, which she had just typed out. It was an official response from the USCIS that my case was still pending, due to the FBI Name Check not having been completed.

And my name was spelt 'Mohammed Nasser'.

Multiply my rage by six and you have some idea of my subsequent reaction. I stuck my head against the window and told the bitch with the attitude what I thought of her and her Mickey Mouse job and her Mickey Mouse federal authority. They both backed off and looked at the paper which I'd shoved back at them, too flustered to say anything. My rant, unabated, continued to multiply until I was nothing more than a very red Egyptian snarling and frothing and snapping, with spaghetti-like arms waving everywhere. If I had seen me acting like this, I would have shot me with a tranquilizer gun.

The guards were stunned at my reaction and neither one made a move. The entire hall (composed of hundreds and hundreds of immigrants) looked on in stunned silence (and, if I were to indulge myself, marvel). No one seemed sure what to do next.

"What's the matter now?" asked one of the guards, a little reticently.
"She made the same mistake that I came here to correct. She misspelt my name in exactly the same way. This is what I've been shouting about all day. You losers can't even get a name right. I wouldn't even trust you to make my fries at a burger king. What do I have to do get you to spell my name correctly? Commision a neon sign and hang it outside this building? How about a two engine plane spelling it out with smoke? Would that help you?"

As you can imagine, this didn't exactly go down well with a whole host of people there. After correcting my name ("he made me nervous" muttered Stooge A to Stooge B, by way of explanation for spelling my name wrong), the guards led me out.

I stood outside the Federal Plaza building. The two guards, who had escorted me out of the building, turned around and walked away without so much as a word. I stood there for a few minutes, smoking a cigarette and then went into the subway.

Monday morning, I'm going to see a civil rights lawyer with experience in immigration law. I can't handle the twin forces of incompetence and discrimination on my own. I'm going to spend all my money making them pay for this.


Blogger Carmen said...

Hey, wouldn't it be funny if your lawyer turns out to be that chick that we read about in that New York Times article; the one that refused that suitor because he wanted to get a mortgage!

Good luck, and fuck the man.

10:16 AM  

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