Mental Cruelty, Now and Then

Immigration Would Say We Are Not Credible

My family kept different secrets in different ways. My father hid his emotions behind stacks of papers he deemed critical. He was too “busy” with those papers to join the family for board games or a day at the Florida beaches. I hoped he would say “I love you” to me, until he passed in 2015 and never did. My father taught me how to keep secrets, concealing his heart to the point of not admitting he even had one.

In stark contrast, my mother says te quiero easily. Laughter follows these words, often emphasized with muchísimo or muchuchísimo. She smiles widely, purses her lips, frowns deeply, clicks her tongue, gesticulates quickly as she speaks. An animated fun-sized woman. Authenticity earns her decades-long friendships with fellow churchgoers, other former teachers, and travel buddies. Yet, these friends, my brother, and even one of my uncles do not know details about her youth in Cuba. Secrets she has shared only with me.

Fraud and Secrets are Different

Mark Doty calls this duality a frozen politeness, a fake life. Is it though?  A border officer might assume a car passenger is documented, legal in the colloquial term. The secret is that they are not.  An officer at an embassy might never ask a client about prior entries to the United States. The secret is that they were deported in the 1980s … before computers kept that information in microchip brains.

I keep the deepest secrets perhaps. While I might reveal my work — frustrations and glories, appeals and approvals – I am tight lipped about client names and details. Call me The Tomb; information goes in and never comes out. My personal life even more so. I can count on one hand the number of persons who know if I am dating. Perhaps half of them know the name of the last person I dated.

When an immigration officer draws a line and calls it fraud, or when an immigration judge says that my client cannot be believed (lack of credibility), my crusade defending clients begins. Everyone keeps secrets. 

Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.

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