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Heartland uprising

"Heartland uprising" Continued...

Issue: "A few good men," May 6, 2006

Why fixate on the symbolism? "We know that there are people who rightfully feel offended [from the previous protests]. We need to clarify the message and say this is not anti-U.S."

Immigrant purgatory

Considering what he's been through in the past five months, perhaps U.S. citizen Douglas Mickey should have followed his lawyer's tongue-in-cheek advice to smuggle his Chinese bride into the United States. Paying a coyote to smuggle her across the border would have certainly been cheaper than the approximate $4,000 he'll have to dole out for immigration lawyers and various fees associated with getting his wife a visa. If she gets a visa.

After more than five months of filling out forms, making phone calls, faxing letters, and sending e-mails, Mr. Mickey seems to have landed in bureaucratic purgatory-somewhere between outright rejection and an approved visa, simply waiting for something to happen. "I'm not stupid. I'm not illiterate. I graduated summa cum laude from my college. But I can't understand this process."

It's legal immigration. And, according to Mr. Mickey, it's harder than it sounds. While he watches immigration protests advocating amnesty for Latino migrants, Mr. Mickey reflects on his own travails bringing his wife back to his home state of New Jersey. "I'm following the rules," he said. "I definitely feel cheated."

Mr. Mickey, 50, left his job as a paralegal in Caldwell, N.J., to move to China to work with a missions agency teaching English in Xinzheng City. Along the way, he met a young woman named Wong Li through a recruitment letter from another organization, and their relationship grew through phone calls and conversations by e-mail and instant messaging. They met in person in October 2004 shortly before she moved to London to begin an MBA program. When he traveled to London the following January to ask her to marry him, she said yes. They were married on Sept. 27, 2005.

But winning her hand in marriage was easy compared to bringing her to the States. The couple hired an American immigration attorney living in China last December to start a process that Mr. Mickey says turned into a "nightmare." Mr. Mickey had to travel to Beijing to formally apply at the local Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office-open, he told WORLD, for only two hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

DHS referred his case to the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou. But he never got a case number, an unforeseen but immediate problem. When Mr. Mickey called to check on Li's visa application, "The first thing they said was, 'What's the case number?'" He knew he was in trouble. Mr. Mickey doesn't know if his paperwork was successfully transferred to the Guangzhou office or if it received his change of address notification. He should have heard something and have moved on to the next phase more than two months ago. He's heard nothing.

In the meantime, Mr. Mickey must return to New Jersey to take a job so he can prove to immigration officials he can support a wife. Li must return to London. "Here's the worst part: They say once my wife gets the next set of documents, it will be at least, at least five more months," he said. "I don't know how anybody does this."

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