Houston's Anne-Kathrine Ubberud Learns The Hard Way About Immigration Law
America, you will soon be free of this (we assume) terrorist
Ubberud wrote us last week, desperate because she will have to leave behind her parents and sister -- who attained citizenship in March -- as well as her brother, and return to Norway, where she has no family. Last November, she was laid off from the capital management firm where she'd worked for nearly nine years. When she lost her job, she lost her green-card sponsorship. She had 180 days to find a new job. She says she applied all over the country, but employers didn't want to deal with the hassle of sponsoring her, even though she said she'd cover the costs.
In the meantime, she moved in with her parents: "I've sold furniture; my car died, so I sold it. I've sold just about everything I own at this point," she told Hair Balls.
Ubberud came to the U.S. in 1993 and finished her senior year of high school in Connecticut. She then attended Loyola University in Baltimore for a year, before moving to Houston, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Houston. Her parents moved to the U.S. in 1999.
She says her immigration lawyer told her that, as of right now, she's S.O.L. Her parents are willing to sponsor her, but there's a six-year waiting period. Ubberud was married for just less than two years; had she made it to the two-year mark, her husband could have sponsored her. But right now, there are no immediate options other than a job sponsorship. So she bought a plane ticket for May 5 and packed her bags.
In her e-mail, she explained that "I have always stayed in [statute], paid my taxes, and I do not have a record of any kind. I am a good upstanding citizen and want to stay in this wonderful country with my family."
She says she e-mailed every politician she could think of, including the President. Governor Perry's office told her they forwarded her request, for some reason, to the Texas Workforce Commission.
While we knew were dealing with someone who, if they don't leave the country Wednesday, will be an illegal immigrant and a severe threat to our security and way of life, we figured we'd call Houston's Consulate General of Norway and let them know one of their own was in a pickle, and maybe they'd want to help.
Unfortunately, as Consul General Lasse Sigurd Seim told us, the Consulate doesn't do that sort of thing. So we asked him what exactly it was they did.
He told us that the "core activity is to handle visa issues, passport issues, and then also assist, to the extent that's possible, Norwegian citizens that have difficulties here. And a major part is also promoting Norwegian business in this area."
Now, it sounded to us like Ubberud might fall into that whole "Norwegian citizens that have difficulties here," but what he meant was, if a Norwegian citizen here gets mugged and they lose their passport or visa, the Consulate would get them a replacement. And if a Norwegian citizen here winds up in jail, someone from the Consulate would go visit him, if that person wanted. But lifting a finger to help a taxpayer who hasn't broken the law and who will be stripped from her family -- that's totally not their bag.
He told us it's strictly a job for the American authorities, which is true...mostly because this is the United States, and everything here is a job for the American authorities. Well, except for issuing a new passport. So we came away with a better understanding of just what a Consulate is: a combination clerk's office/Kinko's.
Although we were certain that the no-good lazy bum Ubberud would be out on her kiester soon enough, we decided to call the Norwegian embassy in D.C.
We liked Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen's words on the embassy's website, where he talks about the Norwegian-Americans who are descendants of those who "came with their dreams and hope for a better life. Most of them, like my family, settled in the Midwest and Washingston state."
It seemed like family was very important to the Ambassador, and that maybe such a person might be interested in the splitting up of a family due at least partly to the worst economic slump in generations. And he seemed like a cool guy -- he took time to pose with members of a Norwegian metal band and to visit places like Charlotte, North Carolina, to discuss climate change. He wrote about meeting governors and legislators. Someone who did stuff like that, we thought, might have time to pick up a phone and call one of those influential lawmakers and discuss Ubberud's story.
Nope. Embassy Spokeswoman Jannicke Jaeger told us that the Embassy did not "interfere" with American authorities.
Right now, the only agency that is at least looking into possibilities for Ubberud is the Texas Workforce Commission, which we think is pretty cool. Or maybe not. After all, rules are rules, and Ubberud has no sponsor right now. And especially now, with our porous borders and our War on Terrorism, our immigration policies need to be followed more than ever before. Won't our country be better off without people like Ubberud here? Hard-working, taxpaying people with no criminal records who just want to live near their families? Yeah -- who wants those kind of people in the United States of America?
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