A rubric is a word or section of text which is written or printed in red ink to highlight it. On church calendars it is an old custom to mark holidays with rubrics and today we say that any day of special significance is a "red letter day". For me, today was a day of special significance and hence I choose to call it "A Red Letter Day". The big deal about today is that I went to León, Guanajuato from my home in Irapuato to visit the offices of the the "Delegación Local" of the "Instituto Nacional de Migración" to receive my "Declaratoria de Inmigrado" or "permanent residency status". That means that I now have all of the rights as a regular Mexican Citizen except that I can't hold public office or vote in an election. It took me ten years and nine months to reach this point. First there were five years with an FM3 "No Inmigrante" status, the original one year temporary work permit and four annual "prórrogas" or yearly "extensions". Then there were another five years with an FM2 "Inmigrante" status, the original one year work permit and four annual "refrendos" or "endorsements". Finally today I got my Declaratoria de Inmigrado. My case is different than that of those who came to Mexico to retire because I came to Mexico to work in a specialized field as a "Técnico" or "technician". I could have gotten my permanent status earlier by marrying a Mexican national sooner but I didn't marry my wife Gina until my fourth refrendo so I just let the thing play out naturally. Getting the permission to marry was another thing that took many trips to León and lots of paperwork but that is something that you just have to expect and accept. I am estimating that the whole permit process from the beginning in January 1999 until today cost me about $10,000.00 and in addition it took about eighty round trips by auto from Irapuato to León and back. In the end I think it was well worth it. It is like one of those milestones in life. You only do it once and you never forget it. Anyway, now I don't have to check in with the government every year and pay a fee. What a releif that is!
I have some advice for those who are just beginning their journey through the bureaucratic maze of the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM). There are four things that I learned that helped me quite a bit. In fact they are four things that I think will help anyone who has to confront an army of bureaucrats backed by countless forms, rules, and regulations. They are Persistence, Determination, Patience, and Courtesy. Some people opt out and pay a lawyer to handle all of the details. What fun is that and how are you going to learn anything by having other people do what you could and should be doing for yourself? At first the language barrier can make it difficult because very few of the INM people speak English. You can overcome that by bringing a friend with you who can at least speak a little more Spanish than you can. Remember to smile and be polite ALWAYS! It will get you much farther much faster than a frown or a pout or a sad face. Smile until it hurts. You can always scream some expletives after you leave the building and get in your car. Go ahead...let off some steam afterward, but during your visits never let them see that you are upset. Besides that, the people that you are dealing with have a hard life. They don't make a lot of money and their career path for the most part is dull and boring. Show some respect. It will return big dividends. Remember, this is a simple test. Stop worrying about not passing. All you need to do is pay your dues and put in the time and effort and you will eventually receive your papers. Nobody is going to kick you out if you are making a legitimate effort, no matter how long it takes.
Finally, I can't say enough about determination. You should determine that you are going to see the thing through and then make it happen. One of my favorite poems is by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. It is titled "Will" and part of it goes:
"The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew the way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene. "
HOORAY, HOORAY for my Red Letter Day!!!
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