I was thinking that people would be less critical of illegal immigrants if the knew some, or knew how hard it is to wade through the bureaucratic nightmare of staying legal. El Salvador didn’t event bureaucracy nor the bureaucrat but, they have world class in both categories. Back in March we were lacking some of the papers we needed from our HQ in order to apply for residency so we spent some time collecting and turning in a bunch of official documents to extend our temporary tourist visa. We also learned, or thought we learned, details of what we would need to apply for residency.
So, we had our part together and the translator and lawyer got their parts together the day before Raquel was born so, that caused a little delay. We got together with her and reviewed the paperwork on Monday — looks good. On Tuesday we went to the Government Center and watched and listened as the man behind the desk reject some of our papers for different reasons. For example, he rejected our children’s physicals because the doctor stamped them with his round official seal instead of a rectangular one. This was not nearly as impressive as his randomly requiring new papers. For example, he decided that since I had come into the country three times over the past 9 1/2 months that I had entered “frequently” and needed an official police background check.
I went to the police station about 1:30 in the afternoon the same day and they told me that they were full for the day and to come back in the morning. I showed up at exactly 6:45AM on Wednesday and was delighted to be only #21 in line. I was equally delighted to be done with the process in only 1 1/2 hours.
So, today we went back to immigration with square stamped physicals in hand and all of the kids in tow (as required). This time the lady rejected completely different papers for completely different reasons — the same ones the first official had said were OK. She said that the translation of some of documents needed to be exact (Like if you know English well enough to know the translation to Spanish is incorrect, why do you even need it translated?) She said that a pressed seal needed to be translated (like you can read the letters on a pressed seal on a document?).
So now we are wondering: what will happen if we don’t get our residency next week? Something has to give. If we have to leave the country for 72 hours to renew our tourist visa then, obviously, we need to be able to take Raquel with us. If Raquel doesn’t have official paperwork, we have to stay in the country and become “illegal immigrants”.