So long

So long, early twenties, I won’t be missing you. You may have been good to me, but I wasn’t very good to you. I wasted you, sitting in this room, wishing for something better. Turns out all I had to do was go out and get it. I know better now.

25 seems important somehow. I better make the most of it.

Immigration Reform – You’ve been hit by, you’ve been struck by

On the day Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss immigration reform, Michael Jackson dies, stealing all the thunder. Smooth criminal.

Still, the news is encouraging, if not completely positive. McCain was at the meeting, and Obama made this statement:

I’m hoping for some movement before October, but at this point, it’s very doubtful. The good thing is that Dream Act activism across the country has made an impact. There was a NY Times editorial about the Dream Act mock graduations, and one about immigration reform, and lots of other coverage. I can only hope people are starting to pay attention.

I’m currently writing a piece for a “journal” to be put out as part of an investigative story from someone at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. Not sure how much of an impact it will make, but it’s something I wanted to contribute to.

PS. I got nothing against Michael Jackson. I’ve even been on his ranch. It was nice.

Faith Redux

These last three days have been nightmarish, but I’m doing pretty well.

I reiterate, the Dream Act is my only hope against waiting 5 years for a visa. And now, it looks like Obama is refusing to take a direct stand on the issue. The immigration meeting that was supposed to take place at the White House has been pushed back, and now it looks like it isn’t even a serious meeting. When will he start keeping his promises? He sure as fuck won’t keep a Congressional majority by midterm elections if he keeps this up.

To top it off, USCIS is slow as fuck on their application processing and visa priority dates. What the fuck!? From May-June, the priority date shifted 3 months, which seemed like good news at the time. Of course, this is until the July visa bulletin came out a week ago, stating that the priority date had shifted ONE WEEK. Technically, the priority date should shift a month for every month that goes by. If it shifts more than a month in the August bulletin, I’ll be very happy. Three months is a pipe dream, of course, because that would mean I’d have my visa in sixteen months instead of fifty four or sixty, but I had such high hopes after the last visa bulletin.

There is a need for immigration reform, if only for those people who have to wait ten years to get permanent residency legally. We aren’t even talking about illegal immigrants here, this is about legal immigrants such as myself who’ve been waiting for years and now find ourselves in a situation where we can’t get green cards because we aged out due to the government’s behemoth bureaucracy. They should have let us keep our original priority dates, filed by our parents, but apparently that’s not possible, especially since a new decision came out two days ago. I’d post a link but I’m too tired. What it means is that if I were able to keep my original priority date, which was sometime in 2001, I’d have my green card immediately, because the current priority date is in late 2002. But because the courts have decided that I’m not eligible for my parents’ original priority date, my priority date is the one that matters, and my priority date is November 2007.

You do the math. Meanwhile, I’m not eligible for loans or any federal aid, which means that unless my parents can take out a private loan, I’m not going to Hollins.

I’m holding out hope for my father coming back from Russia to work in Puerto Rico, which would pay considerably more than what he’s supposed to be making now. I hope Obama finally presses the immigration issue.

Airport

Taking my dad to the airport in a few minutes so he can go to Russia for a production that’s going to last until early October.

Still don’t know what to do about all these problems.

Just what I needed

I knew this would happen and I would get screwed. Perfect timing. Thanks old roommates, for sending me the water bill without attempting to pay it, even though I paid you my share so you could try to pay it under my name. Now it’s overdue and you probably won’t send me any money, so I’m fucked.

Thanks also for never answering your phone when I call, or returning my calls, so that I have to waste time communicating through email.

You can’t fail if you don’t try

So I’m trying. Here are a few literary contests I’ll be submitting work to in the next few months. I’ll probably be adding on to this post later. I found these on the deadlines section of Poets and Writers, here. They’re arranged by reading fees and deadline:

No Reading Fee Contests:

The New Esquire Fiction Contest

No reading fee – submissions of 4,000 words or less based on these pre-selected titles:

1. “Twenty-Ten”
2. “An Insurrection”
3. “Never, Ever Bring This Up Again” (this reminds me of DFW’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”)

Deadline: August 1st

Memoir (and) Memoir in prose and poetry contest

No reading fee, online submission system – 10,000 word limit or 5 poems

Deadline: August 15th

Contests with Reading Fees:

Literal Latte Short Short Story contest

$10 reading fee for up to 3 pieces, $15 for 6 – paper submissions only. 2,000 word limit.

Deadline: June 30th postmark

Narrative Spring 2009 Story Contest

$20 reading fee – 15,000 word limit for fiction/nonfiction

Deadline: July 31st

Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize

$20 per piece reading fee – paper submissions only. 10,000 word limit.

Deadline: September 1st

Literal Latte Personal Essay contest

$10 reading fee for one piece, $15 for two – paper submissions only. 6,000 world limit.

Deadline: September 15th postmark

Help me go to graduate school and make some money in the process

I haven’t posted much about being undocumented, but it’s the main reason why I need financial help right now. I can’t get any loans because I don’t have legal status, and my parents have bad credit and can’t cosign a loan for me, so I’m hoping to get about 1000 people to each give me $40 so that I can go to graduate school.

I’m doing this through a website called Greennote, which is a company built around the peer to peer loan process. The reason I’m using this website is that the loan process doesn’t require a credit check or any sort of citizenship or residency documentation. The website is here to facilitate loan transactions between individuals who are willing to loan money to students.

The loan is legitimate, and if you choose to invest in my education, you would be repaid with interest. One of the benefits of this type of loan is that it is cheaper for me to repay, with interest rates set at 6.8%. Most private loans have an interest rate of at least 9%. Greennote makes a profit through two fees:

Documentation fee of 2% (minimum $49) paid by student (borrower) out of proceeds of loan
Annual lender administration fee of 1% paid by lender out of proceeds of repayment

I have a profile set up on the site which cannot be viewed right now because no one has chosen to pledge any money towards my loan. The site works by using the borrower’s social network (in this case, I sent a bunch of emails out to ask for money). Once someone pledges $100, my profile will be visible on the Greennote network so that people whom I have not emailed can see it and decide whether to donate or not.

Here’s the breakdown of what I need:

$17,000 a year for two years for tuition (I received a 10k tuition grant from the school, but tuition is $27,780)
$3,000 a year for living expenses (this is approximate and will probably be raised to $4,000 because I have to buy food)

Living expenses based on $300 month for rent. I hope to continue freelancing (Russian translation, tutoring, editing/proofreading), but it has been really tough to find any sort of work, especially since I’m looking on craigslist.

So, I need $34,000 for tuition, and $6,000-$8,000 for living expenses, making the total $40,000-$42,000.

See the terms of the loan here

My qualifications:

UC Berkeley graduate (double major: English and Russian) Cumulative GPA: 3.591
One of 15 students chosen for the first year of my graduate program (approximately 280 applications were received this year)
Experienced Russian-to-English translator (I’ll translate anything you want!)

I could go on with this business of selling myself, but really, I’m just a guy who has a dream and needs some help to accomplish it. If you or someone you know can spare $40 for a good cause, please send me an email so that I can send you a Greennote invitation.

Someone asked about how I can get legal status: right now I can wait 5 years or get married to a US citizen. Neither of those are happening any time soon.

A first step towards freedom

DREAM Act and U.S. Immigration Policy

Everyone should know about the DREAM Act. If you support immigration reform, you should support the DREAM Act, because it is a logical step towards legalization for many immigrants. Note that I didn’t say “illegal immigrants,” because I happen to be one of many originally “legal” immigrants who will benefit from this bill. Ironically, the only reason I’m now “undocumented” and technically “illegal” is because USCIS didn’t process my family’s petition for residency in good time, so I aged out. More on this later.

The DREAM Act was introduced again this year in the Senate. It has been introduced before, and it has failed before, but this year looks very good.

In basic terms, “This bill would provide certain undocumented immigrant students who graduate from US high schools, are of good moral character, arrived in the US as children (before the age of 16), and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency.” (Sourced from Wikipedia, italics are mine)

If passed, this bill will give me and many other immigrants who went to high school and graduated but were not able to afford to go to college or get a legitimate job, the ability to go to school and take part in society, like normal people. We’d be able to get driver’s licenses, jobs, pay taxes, compete for scholarships and take out federal loans. We’d be able to get Social Security numbers, fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for grants and federal aid, and we’d be able to travel outside the US without fear of being placed on a 10 year ban list.

Read the Senate bill here and the House bill here.

There are a lot of arguments against this bill floating around out there. I think the primary argument is that we’d be giving rights to people who came to the US “illegally.”

A good response to this argument is that the Bill focuses on people who were children when they came to the US, and thus had no control over coming here. I certainly did not have any control in coming here. I was 11. Because the bill focuses specifically on people who were 16 or younger when they arrived, it avoids the major issue of so-called “amnesty” for “actual” “illegal” immigrants, the parents of those children. Please note that the bill says nothing about the parents.

Another good response to the argument about illegality is the fact that the bill will benefit many “undocumented” immigrants who came to the country legally, but for whatever reason lost status and are in limbo for a certain period of time. I am one of these people. Here is a timeline of what happened to me:

We came here legally on a B1/B2 visa in 1995 when I was eleven. My
parents extended that visa and then, when my father got a job, changed
it to H1 in 1996. After that my father applied for an L visa and was
denied it. Unfortunately, our lawyer did not apply for an extension of
the H1B visa, and while going through a lengthy process of appeals, my
parents fell out of status at the end of 2000. I was sixteen at that
time.

While my father was going through the appellate process, my mother
found a teaching job and her employer applied for an Alien Employment
Certification (ETA 750) – the first step in getting a green card
through employment, under Section 245 (i).

1) The Application for Alien Employment Certification for my mother
with me as a beneficiary was filed on April 23, 2001 with a priority
date of April 24, 2001. After that the application lingered in limbo
with thousands of other applications between California EDD,
Department of Labor and Backlog Reduction Centers for the next six
years.

Meanwhile I turned eighteen in 2002 and lost my legal status as well.

2) The Application was finally approved by the Department of Labor on
January 2, 2007. Now my mother’s employer could file Immigrant
Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) and my parents could file for
adjustment of status (I-485). Both forms were filed concurrently in
June 2007.

3) I turned twenty one in 2005 and could no longer be a beneficiary on
my mother’s petition or application for adjustment of status.

4) The petition was approved in October 2007 and my parents’
application to adjust status was approved on October 26, 2007.

5) My mother filed Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) for me in
November 2007, receipt date – November 15, 2007.

Technically, I am an “illegal” immigrant simply because of bureaucratic slowdown. Shouldn’t the US government give me my rights anyway? After all, it’s their fault I’m now undocumented. At the very least, the government should streamline their visa and residency process so that people like my family and I won’t have to wait 10 years to get permanent residency. We didn’t do anything wrong.

The argument isn’t merely about me though. There are many people who would benefit from this bill – young adults who want to go to college and live a normal life – you should consider them and what they can do for your society. Oakland just passed a council measure stating that they will give illegal immigrants ID cards, just like San Francisco did recently. I wish I was in Oakland now. It’s a first step towards freedom.

I have to say, my family and I have been really lucky. I got to attend UC Berkeley with in-state tuition because I went to a California high school. My parents paid the full in-state tuition because I wasn’t eligible for scholarships or financial aid. It would have been nice to have a job at Berkeley. I could have had one. I could have been hired by the one of the computing labs on campus. It was a done deal until it came time to verify my employment eligibility.

Now that I’ve made plans to go to grad school this fall, I can’t get any assistance from the government because I wasn’t able to fill out a FAFSA. I got a tuition grant from the school, but that’s not even close enough to paying for tuition. It would be nice to get a job when I get to Virginia, but it most likely won’t happen.

Here’s a link:

DREAM Act community

Issues

Trying to find a job on craigslist in this economy is brutal. There’s like 100 people applying for bullshit jobs like tutoring and whatever else.

PSAT

So, I might be tutoring the PSAT. Any suggestions as to how to do this really well? I didn’t realize kids were getting tutored for the PSAT. I think it just goes to show how competitive education has become. When parents think their kids need to score well on a test that means absolutely nothing, it becomes a bit of a joke. But hey, I’m not complaining, because I’m going to get paid for this. It just seems really strange and really underscores the competitive nature of being a student.

I’m pretty sure Berkeley is considering not using SAT scores as a measure of success. So all these kids taking the PSAT/SAT might find themselves out of a whole lot of money with nothing to show for it, at least where Berkeley is concerned. And in a way, I think that’s a good thing, because the college board makes so much money out of this bullshit testing system. It’s ridiculous how much they control.

So, I’m only going to tutor the English sections. There’s a section on sentence completion (13 questions, 25 minutes), a section on critical reading (35 questions, 25 minutes), and one 30-minute writing skills section with three subsections, including identifying sentence errors (14 questions), improving sentences (20 questions), and improving paragraphs (5 questions).

Looks like I should focus on the critical reading section and the whole writing skills section, and just skim the sentence completion.

I need to send this person an email with the structure of my nonexistent prep class.