Associate Professor of English, University of Michigan-Flint. I research and teach rhetoric and writing.
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How male privilege produces such hapless men

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The internet abounds with tales of male incompetence. What’s up with all these morons?
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betajames
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Michigan
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The Most Dangerous Climate Feedback Loop is Speeding Up

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Permafrost

Thawing permafrost is an especially dangerous amplifying feedback loop because the global permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today .

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betajames
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Michigan
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President Trump made 8,158 false or misleading claims in his first two years - The Washington Post

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Two years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That includes an astonishing 6,000-plus such claims in the president’s second year.

Put another way: The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. But he hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year, almost triple the pace.

We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. Readers demanded we keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency. Our interactive graphic, managed with the help of Leslie Shapiro of The Washington Post graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. You can also search for specific claims or obtain monthly or daily totals.

In the first 100 days, the president made 492 unsupported claims. He managed to top that number just in the first three weeks of 2019. In October, as he was barnstorming the country in advance of the midterm elections, he made more than 1,200 false or misleading claims.

Not surprisingly, the biggest source of misleading claims is immigration, with a tally that has grown with the addition of 300 immigration claims in the past three weeks, for a total of 1,433.

In the president’s immigration address Saturday, the last day of his second year in office, we counted 12 false or misleading claims, including:

"Heroin alone kills 300 Americans a week, 90 percent of which comes across our southern border.”

  • The 300-a-week number checks out. But while 90 percent of the heroin sold in the United States comes from Mexico, virtually all of it comes through legal points of entry. “A small percentage of all heroin seized by [Customs and Border Protection] along the land border was between Ports of Entry (POEs),” the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report. So Trump’s wall would do little to halt drug trafficking. Trump’s repeated claim that the wall would stop drug trafficking is a Bottomless Pinocchio claim.

“Many of these security ideas have been proposed by Democrats themselves, and all of them have been supported by Democrats in the past, including a physical barrier wall or fence.”

  • Trump overstates the supposed Democratic support. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and many Democrats (although not Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California) voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by President George W. Bush and authorized construction of a fence along nearly 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It passed 283 to 138 in the House, with 64 Democratic votes, and 80 to 19 in the Senate, with 26 Democratic votes. But the fence they voted for is not as substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump himself has called the 2006 fence a “nothing wall.” 

"However, the whole concept of having lengthy trials, for anyone who sets one foot in our country unlawfully, must be changed by Congress. It is unsustainable. It is ridiculous. Few places in the world would even consider such an impossible nightmare.”

  • Trump is routinely astonished by U.S. and international laws on asylum. This is how it works in any country that abides by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees: A refugee enters and makes a petition, and the government makes a ruling after analyzing the facts. It’s also worth keeping in mind that 85 percent of all deportations in the United States are ordered quickly, without a hearing before a judge. 

"If we build a powerful and fully designed see-through steel barrier on our southern border, the crime rate and drug problem in our country would be quickly and greatly reduced. Some say it could be cut in half.”

  • Trump’s statement that a border wall would cut the nation’s crime rate — and “drug problem” — in half is simply laughable. There is no evidence to suggest that is the case. Most undocumented immigrants do not illegally cross the southern border, undocumented immigrants do not commit crimes at a rate higher than U.S. citizens, and drugs flow through the border mostly through legal crossing points. 

"Thousands of children are being exploited by ruthless coyotes and vicious cartels and gangs.”

  • Here’s an example of where the president or his aides appear to have responded to our fact checks. No government statistic tracks children smuggled in by bad actors, “coyotes” or drug gangs, and for this speech, Trump has altered his usual claim that “last month alone, 20,000 minors were smuggled into the United States.” Now the number is fuzzier, and he no longer says “smuggled” but uses a weaker “exploited.” Trump previously referred to Customs and Border Protection’s number for family-unit apprehensions and unaccompanied minors. But we have pointed out that it’s wrong to describe it as a statistic that represents children being smuggled into the country. Trump appears to be acknowledging there are no firm numbers for how many parents might have hired a smuggler, coyote or gang member — though there is no evidence that the figure would be “thousands.” 

Claims about foreign policy (900) and trade (854) rank second and third, followed by claims about the economy (790) and jobs (755). But there’s also a grab-bag category of “miscellaneous” (899), which includes misleading attacks on the media or people the president perceives as enemies.

By our count, there were only 82 days — or about 11 percent of the time — on which we recorded no claims. These were often days when the president golfed.

But there were also 74 days, or about 10 percent of his presidency, in which Trump made more than 30 claims. These were often days when he held campaign-style rallies, riffing without much of a script.

Trump has made many misleading claims about the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, claiming 192 times a variation of the statement that it was a hoax perpetuated by Democrats. The CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency had announced that they had “high confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the election, with a clear preference for Trump. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed by Trump’s Justice Department, and the congressional committees investigating the matter have been headed by Republicans.

Trump repeated 127 times the falsehood about securing the biggest tax cut in U.S. history, even though Treasury Department data shows it would rank eighth. And 126 times, he has falsely claimed that the United States has lost money on trade deficits. Countries do not “lose” money on trade deficits. A trade deficit simply means that people in one country are buying more goods from another country than people in the second country are buying from the first country. Trade deficits are also affected by macroeconomic factors, such as currencies, economic growth and savings and investment rates.

Visit our website of Bottomless Pinocchios for highly misleading or false claims that the president has made so often that they have become a form of disinformation.

(Contributors to the database over the past two years include Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Nicole Lewis.)

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acdha
1 day ago
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This is a challenge for reporters: it’s important to call him on it but it just blurs together for most people
Washington, DC
betajames
1 day ago
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Michigan
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Martin Luther King Jr. and the White Delusion of a 'Non-Racist' America

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There are two MLKs.

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betajames
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rocketo
2 days ago
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seattle, wa
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Trump and the obliteration of America

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Today marks the two year anniversary of President Trump's ignominious reign over the United States. We are now at the midpoint of Trump's first, perhaps only, term as president of the United States, what we can now understand as our collective Trumpening.

It is natural to ask about the consequences of handing the office of the presidency to a friendless, joyless, violence-worshipping narcissist. Unfortunately, what we know about the repercussions of this period is vastly outstripped by the disasters to come. For all the many ignominious assaults that the country has endured over the past two years, we have not yet experienced even a fifth of the calamities this man and his misrule will ultimately inflict upon us.

But we know a few things.

We know that President Trump has, perhaps permanently, transformed the presidency with his malevolence, ineptitude, and divisiveness. Donald Trump is by far the laziest and least informed person ever to inhabit the White House. In two years, he has defined deviance so far down that he may have forever altered the expectations of the office of the presidency itself. As we have learned from a thousand anonymously sourced news analyses, the president's time is largely unstructured, filled mostly with blocks of compulsive Fox News watching, an activity that he telegraphs to the public by live tweeting it. America's voters are constantly being told, by the president of the United States, to watch particular Fox programs and to applaud quotes by right-wing gadflies uttered without any serious pushback from other guests on what is now effectively Republican state television.

Aides, despairing of any real hope that Trump will take his job seriously, desperately schedule short blocks of "policy time" for their addled boss, a man so bereft of any lawmaking depth that he has repeatedly sent his congressional enablers scrambling to meet his capricious demands and volte faces. He has lit millions of taxpayer dollars on fire visiting his own gauche resorts, time he might have spent reining in the unprecedented corruption emanating from nearly every executive agency he staffed either with members of his dimwitted entourage or the very "globalists" he continues to hypocritically decry. Every day, this darling of the evangelical movement lives his truth, which happens to line up with every one of the seven deadly sins of sloth, envy, greed, pride, anger and gluttony. Lust, at least, he seems to have left mercifully in his recent past.

Heralded as the first post-partisan president, a transactional dealmaker sent to blow up the shriveled gridlock in Washington, Trump has instead governed as the president of the Red States of America. Journalists working outside of the right wing mediasphere are demonized as "enemies of the people" and hounded by his supporters. He rarely visits states that voted for Hillary Clinton unless there's a golf course there, and signs bills designed explicitly to punish voters in Democratic strongholds. While he constantly caterwauls about Democrats obstructing his agenda, he has never once crafted a public message designed to expand his appeal beyond his MAGA base and clearly views his political future as dependent only on the narrow coalition of people who voted for him in 2016.

Fueled by a lifetime of resentment against elites, racial minorities, and immigrants, he is incapable even of treating disasters and tragedies in blue states and territories with the gravity they deserve. Texas is a "great state" hit by an unfathomably catastrophic hurricane, while Puerto Ricans "want everything done for them" and California wildfires are the fault of government mismanagement. Here again what was once unthinkable — a president openly despising people who voted against him and punishing them for their supposed thought crimes — has become routine.

A complete trainwreck as a policy leader, Trump has also managed to be a miserable failure at the president's ceremonial duties. Instead of comfort to the afflicted, he drags his witlessness and anger into every room with him, teaching victims of calamity that their moral worth depends on who they voted for or which racial caste they were born into. He feuds endlessly with black women, uses the fever-swamp sobriquet "Democrat Party" to describe his opposition, bestows a childish nickname ("Adam Schitt") on each of his multitudinous detractors, and seems to reserve his admiration only for fellow American white nationalists and overseas strongmen.

That this dispiriting display of churlishness, petty grievance mongering, and inept blame-wielding has resulted in consistently low approval ratings is little comfort for the future. At least a third of the country has told pollsters over and over again that there is no line the president can cross, no standard of action that he can violate, no indecency incapable of being waved away by pointing to the unemployment rate or manufacturing gains. Millions of Americans — thankfully not yet a majority — are willing to tolerate from our chief executive execrable behavior that no sane person would put up with from their friends, co-workers, or loved ones. He is able to do this because he is the apotheosis of a 40-year-long Republican-led assault on objective truth, expertise, and policy evaluation.

Like domestic abusers and cult leaders and con men, the activity that consumes the preponderance of President Trump's time is relentlessly hammering away at our self-worth and our sense of objective reality. His war on truth operates on multiple fronts and never rests. Arrayed against him are journalists, and at The Washington Post and Politifact they employ a truth-value spectrum, where the number of 'Pinocchios' or a four-category schematic lends a sort of nuance to the kind of nonsense claims politicians clobber each other with in staged debates or campaign ads. Was Barack Obama 'lying' when he said, "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor?" I guess, but the real problem there was the inability to be straight with voters, to able to say something like, "A small number of you may be forced to change insurance plans, for the greater good of your fellow citizens." Donald Trump's lies are not like this. He fills up the public record with things that are not just artful rearrangements of things that are basically real, but rather outlandishly, transparently, undeniably untrue.

I'm not here to recount this litany of lies for you. Set aside for a moment the running count of the total number of lies that he has told — the content of each is irrelevant. The point is for you to forget what it is like to have the president try to tell the truth, to disorient you, to get you to make a false confession. This is our truth, he wants us to say. That's why the president of the United States gets up every morning, uncaps a bottomless flask filled with lies and magnificently ill-informed opinions, and spends entire days and evenings pouring it out over all of us. It is working. We have become inured. We are told that to point out the president's preposterous, outrageous lies is to play directly into a game whose rules only he sets and understands. This is how you got Trump, we are told over and over again by our abusers and their apologists.

In the haze of this unending sensory and rhetorical assault, President Trump has also, loosely, governed the United States as the leader of the most disinterested and unproductive unified government in American history. Has the president delivered on the promises he made? His economic policies, it should be obvious, have been radically different than what you might have gathered from his rally bluster. The man who campaigned on behalf of ruined factory towns and raw-dealed blue collar workers immediately appointed a gallery of sniveling economic con artists to his Cabinet. Together, they have mildly tweaked American trade policy but have tripled down on Reagan-era economic orthodoxy, blowing a long-term hole in the deficit with reckless tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Fleeting manufacturing gains have not been married to any coherent reorientation of American economic policy that will survive the next recession. He has ruined the lives of many people — workers in Ford manufacturing plants and soybean farmers in the Midwest, for instance — that he explicitly promised to rescue.

Thus far there has been no 2008-style disaster so obvious that it penetrates the epistemic closure of even the most fervent diehards. The stock market is up. Unemployment is down. Trump's overseas misadventures, for all of their gobsmacking foolishness, have not yet begun to even approach anything on the scale of the Iraq disaster. For many Americans, that is enough. If you tuned the dude out on Twitter (and you don't work for or depend on the shuttered federal government) you might be able to convince yourself that nothing all that important is amiss. But it is in the realm of policy where we are likely to experience the worst aftershocks, untraceable to the fault line of origin, for many years hence.

President Trump's open dismantling of the country's diplomatic apparatus and soft power capital is likely to haunt us in future dealings with other countries. When future presidents find it impossible to negotiate agreements and treaties with allies and adversaries, because all trust in American policy continuity has been broken and because an entire generation of foreign policy talent has been vaporized, they can thank President Trump. Presidents and prime ministers know that Trump is temporary, that Trumpism might be fleeting. But they now regard America's voters themselves with wariness. When will they next erupt in a petulant display of shortsightedness? Who will be the next rogue elevated to the presidency?

The transition to a post-American global system, multipolar and more complex, was inevitable. But we did not have to gratuitously piss away a century's worth of accumulated goodwill in the process. Republicans since the turn of this century have been bent on dismantling the very international institutions that could help ease the shift to a world in which America is no longer its most powerful country. But it is Trump who has finished the job of blowing apart the post-World War II international order, a loss that while currently a kind of abstraction will be deeply felt during the next serious crisis. For all the many faults of the Pax Americana, one led by China, hampered by an untrusted, isolated United States and reeling from crisis to crisis inflicted by a warming planet, will be worse in ways we can scarcely yet imagine.

The Trump administration's blinkered economic policies, so far the only thing where voters broadly give him some credit, are setting us up for a future meltdown that we will be very poorly equipped to manage. The decade-long Republican assault on the public sector is driving new workers away from civil service, and will leave every important agency within the federal government scrambling for properly trained talent when the time finally comes to either hire them or depend on them in a crisis. Who wants to work for an employer who threatens either to furlough you or drag you into work without pay every time Congress and the president can't agree on a budget? The destruction of these institutions, constructed painstakingly over decades, may cripple a theoretical Democratic administration trying to expand Medicare or reform the systemic graft in our financial system. Just holding together what we now still have may become an impossible task.

America is also deliberately, as a matter of official Republican policy, hemorrhaging money during a long economic expansion. If Trump is in charge when the economy crashes, he will surely listen to the Randian ideologues in his coterie, who will tell him to cut spending, which will make it all incomprehensibly worse. Millions will suffer needlessly. If Republicans manage to slip out of office before the reckoning, the next Democratic administration will be forced to run unthinkable, politically toxic deficits in order to pull us out of the economic spiral. Everything that the leaders of the Democratic primary field want to do will be made more challenging by the wreckage they will first be compelled to wade through. Heads they win, tails we lose. A Trumpist minority that, during these relatively good economic times seems bent on cruelty to minorities and immigrants, will turn darker and more sadistic when the good times come to an end, or when their status as a numerical minority is finally reflected in our politics. They will not go quietly and they almost certainly will go violently. They will add social mayhem to the economic wreckage. It will not be pretty.

And yet we do not know, cannot know, the precise shape of the horrors to come. What we know is that over the past two years, we have cheapened and embarrassed ourselves. Even if this man and his enablers are removed from their offices next year, or even if the latest bombshell leads to Trump's impeachment, we will be like a teenager slinking back home at midnight, stinking of booze, promising that we only had one beer and that we'll never do it again. The moment of release will be poisoned by the memory of what has already transpired. Something about America, as an idea, has been obliterated.

If there is some silver lining to be found, it is that Trump's opponents have rediscovered the importance of institutions that they long took for granted. Normal people are talking about regulations at the Department of Justice, the separation of powers, and the Emoluments Clause. A new generation of young people is engaged in the political process and determined to seize power from the Baby Boomers who have destroyed their futures. The hot blog of the administration is a geekfest called Lawfare. Far from destroying his media tormentors, President Trump has instead sent people scrambling for subscriptions and stories. And millions of people have realized the ways that our democracy is deficient, from the suppression of voter rights via Voter ID laws and felony disenfranchisement procedures to the unequal representation in the Senate suffered by so many Americans.

Whether that encouraging fervor is sufficient to rescue American democracy from the grip of kakistocrats, white nationalists, grifters, and traitors remains to be seen.

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betajames
2 days ago
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F-1 Is for Foreigner

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I came to the US on an F-1 student visa in 2014, to attend college. I am allowed to remain in the country so long as I continue to study full time at an academic or language-training institution that is recognized by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, which is itself maintained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE. I am required to report my location and my profession at all times to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS); a program called Optional Practical Training (OPT) has given me 12 months to work in the States after graduation.

The visa process to come here for college took about two months. There were forms I had to painstakingly fill out online, noting my country of origin (Hong Kong SAR), whether I had ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide, terrorist activity, and/or torture (I had not), whether I had been in the US before (yes, for five days in 2013), what my occupation entailed (“studying”), and what I was going to the US for (to study anthropology at the University of Chicago). I pored over detailed guides provided by the university on how to fill out the forms correctly, how to decipher the language of American bureaucracy, to ensure my visa application would go through. I paid the fees, and scheduled a visa interview to complete the process.

The US Consulate in Hong Kong is on Garden Street (花園道), between Central and the Mid-Levels, in an area historically occupied by rich expatriates and businessmen. Across from it is the Helena May, an aristocratic women’s club housed in a white Edwardian mansion and founded by the wife of a British governor. You’d expect the US Consulate to be as grand and forbidding as the rest of its surroundings, but in actuality the compound looks like shit. Thinking about how totalitarian the space felt, I walked through the grey doors where I had to relinquish my mobile phone to the security guards; the only detail I remember about the giant room in which the visa interviews were being held is that all of the consulate officers were seated in separate booths behind bulletproof glass. The consulate officer assigned to look over my papers wondered at my scholarship (“Wow, they’re paying for everything?”), and said my English was “really good.” He asked me if I had gone to an international school. (I most definitely had not.) Why did I have such great English? Why did I want to go to the United States?

I remember looking at him, his pale face framed by short sandy hair, and thinking, How do I explain to him why my written Chinese is nowhere as fluent as my English? How do I explain myself? I wanted to tell him that whatever image he might have gotten of Hong Kong in his time here, as a site of East-meets-West hybridity, where locals navigated the landscape of British colonial buildings and Taoist temples deftly, who refreshed themselves with a nice cup of milk tea and a slice of Swiss roll after watching yet another horse race, was only accurate if you happened to be born into privilege. I didn’t want to get into the weeds of my family’s convoluted history, which would require me to talk about my autodidact of a mother and my long-absent father. I thought about saying something like, “I place full stock in the idea of a global citizenry, and believe that America is a post-racial Eden for a brown kid like me.”

The truth was I did want to live in a place where I wouldn’t be made fun of for not really passing as Chinese—I felt like I’d irrevocably exchanged one part of myself for another in a zero-sum game that I never wanted to play, before anyone had even explained the stakes to me. Leaving Hong Kong, I thought, felt natural, even genetic, as if there was a gene for transience, passed from my grandparents to my parents, and now onto me and my sister.

I thought about how adults, from random aunties we knew to my close family members, were always saying to my mother that my sister and I were well prepared for the realities of the global economy. I knew this meant that a) our English language skills were good enough for us to pass for “native,” that is, foreign-born speakers, an extremely marketable skill, and b) no compliment about our intellectual prowess was intended. The idea was that we’d be much better at fooling foreigners (white people in particular) about our abilities and/or access to the norms and unspoken rules of respectable, international bourgeois society. I knew that because my family was poor, these aunties and uncles were not only envious that my mother had had the foresight to train us, they were also resentful.

But I sensed that it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about survival, that the consular officer wouldn’t take kindly to a heartwarming tale about my family gaming global capitalism. I also assumed that he wouldn’t enjoy a lecture on how Hong Kong’s history of colonisation and subsequent takeover by a hostile regime has been whitewashed, or even that globalisation distributes its burdens unevenly, to the detriment of working-class people in the non-English-speaking parts of the world. It would be best, I thought, to present myself as a young woman who considered the world her oyster. I stuttered something about being somewhat mixed, that I had a grandparent from Trinidad, that we spoke an amalgamation of English and Cantonese at home. I said I wanted to see what the West was like. My mother smiled encouragingly, and so did the consulate officer. I passed the interview.

At the time I didn’t think about coming to America as an act of immigration, or really, that I was making claims about my personhood, and acquiescing to regimes of control. I was impatient to be a new person, in a new country, to pursue a life of monastic academic austerity. In retrospect, I was not a very smart teenager.

The government calls me alien. According to 8 USC § 1101(a)(3), an alien refers to “any person not a citizen or national of the United States”; a national is only defined as someone who owes “permanent allegiance to a state” some 19 sub-sub-statutes later. In 1996, Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act to curb visa overstays, and to penalize undocumented immigrants with re-entry bans and deportation for misdemeanors and felonies. One of the attackers in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing turned out to have been in the States on an invalid student visa, leading Congress to consider foreign students running amok to be a major national security threat. It’s this moment that arguably serves as the beginning of the current national security architecture when it comes to student and scholar status. The Act required then–Attorney General Janet Reno to figure out a way to collect information from foreign students and exchange visitors, and scrutinize their movements across the country, including a mandate that allows the attorney general to bypass FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, when dealing with their education records.

Then 9/11 happened. The Patriot Act of 2001 mandated the deployment of the electronic reporting system that we now know as SEVIS. This means that all foreign students’ courses of study, enrollment and employment records, addresses, and legal statuses now have to be reported to the US Department of Homeland Security. It is both sobering and amusing to think about the possibility of an official somewhere in the Pentagon becoming exasperated over my constantly changing majors for the first three years of my college career, or my obvious distaste for the general science and math classes I was required to take.

For the first three weeks as a UChicago student, I carried my papers with me everywhere in my satchel, from one class to another, afraid of any misstep that could result in my deportation. This included my passport and my I-20, or the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, which certifies that I “seek to enter or remain in the United States temporarily, and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full program of study at the school named” on the form. Later on, I added my Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to my file, and when I was cleared to work as a barista at a student-run cafe in the school library, I included my Social Security card in the mix.

My anxiety levels peaked the first time I entered US borders all by myself. An unfriendly border officer grilled me again and again on why I was in the country. At this point I had my answers ready, but I was jet-lagged, and I was taken aback when I was asked why anthropology. (Hey, looking back I’m not sure why either.) Gratitude washed all over me when the officer finally allowed himself to crack a smile, and said, “Well, welcome to the US,” as he gave me back my papers. I experienced the same sense of anxiety and gratefulness over and over again, as I travelled between America and the rest of the world, and recited the same information, that I have since committed to memory, to a variety of officers of all racial backgrounds: Yes, I am at the University of Chicago. Yes, I am an undergraduate studying philosophy / comparative literature / my major du jour. I knew that technically speaking, my visa didn’t necessarily grant me permission to enter the States; it was the officials at ports of entry, looking over my paperwork and taking my fingerprints and photograph every time I stepped through the borders of the US, who determined whether I could go back to Hyde Park.


It is strange, I think, to expect non-immigrant aliens, student or otherwise, to deny the human impulse to connect and make community with those around them. There is a certain cruelty in the expectation that someone should spend her formative years settling and building a life for herself in a new country, and never consider it as anything but a temporary sojourn, never daring to dream of her future there, in a place she now could call home. This is true of not just America, but of every nation-state who seek to enforce impediments to movement across the world.

I now find myself in the position, as many immigrants do, of having a deep sense of connection to the neighbourhoods and communities in which I have lived. If you walk past me on the street, you’d have reason to assume I was native-born—the distinctly North American cadences of my speech, my semi-hurried coastal-city gait, the comfort and adroitness with which I comport myself in a crowd of Americans. I feel at rest within my chosen communities, but I have been trying my best to wean myself off of my sense of belonging.

If I am fortunate enough to get into graduate school, it will be an open question as to whether I can continue to pitch and write articles during that time, especially since I will be allotted only the 12 months during and after my studies to work. If I choose to try my luck and apply for more-permanent jobs in order to qualify for a longer stay in the country, any potential employer will have to prove that my hire will not displace American-born writers and journalists, a feat that will only grow more and more difficult as the media landscape shifts and companies become ever more reliant on freelance labour. Meanwhile, I continue to circulate within the journalism internship market on the East Coast, where I will remain unless I come into possession of $500,000—to buy an EB-5 visa.

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betajames
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