Robert Kirby: Coming to America gets expensive

Robert Kirby

Confession time. In October 1975, my wife sought asylum in the United States. She was desperate to live in a land free from the terrors of wolves, arctic temperatures and a state police known as the Mounties.

So eager was my wife to flee her former life in Canada and come to America that she was willing to marry far below her station.

We weren’t entirely sure about how an international marriage would work, so after our wedding reception in Calgary, Alberta, I drove down through Idaho alone. Meanwhile, she traveled with my parents into Montana.

Once in America, we reconnected in a “clandestine” rendezvous at a McDonald’s in Helena. We have been living/hiding together ever since.

It wasn’t always easy. Although technically an immigrant of suspicious origin, she turned herself in and acquired a work visa so we could feed and clothe our offspring — which is inevitable even when love crosses international lines.

Eventually, she gained a status known as “registered alien.” She could move about freely and enjoy life without being overtly followed by the FBI or immigration agents.

Living a life above reproach allowed her to achieve the lofty status sometimes bestowed on foreigners as that of a “permanent resident.”

It doesn’t make her life here carefree. As a Canadian citizen, she cannot possess a U.S. passport. Her Canadian passport, a less worthy document, often requires her to stand in a different line when we pass through customs.

On the bright side, it decreases her value as a hostage should we ever be seized by anti-American terrorists in our travels.

“This one is Canadian. Spare her.”

“This one is American and will not stop demanding that we defile ourselves. Kill him first.”

Despite her privileged life here, there is one thing my wife cannot do. She can’t vote. The best she can do as a permanent resident when it comes to making her voice count in the political process is yell at me.

Since we don’t share similar political views, I don’t tell her whom I vote for. But she knows me well enough to realize what transpired when I come home from making my voice heard.

“You voted for Ralph Feekle anyway, didn’t you? I told you he …”

Fed up with my politics, my wife applied for full U.S. citizenship last year. The process is a long and complicated one. And damn expensive.

Recently, it has been proposed to significantly increase the fees for naturalization from $640 to $1,170, an 83% jump.

That’s a lot of money for the privilege of choosing between idiots in a dubious political process and for standing in the same line at customs. Worse, why pay for putting oneself at greater risk when traveling?

I have encouraged her to save our money and remain solely Canadian. It could come in handy.

Me • “We might need to move there. What if America gets into a war where they start drafting old guys?”

Her • “They won’t. But if they do, then we’re definitely staying here.”

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.