Some things change very slowly. Such as the office where one goes to have paperwork completed, photo taken and signed documents along with 4619 pesos, approximately $270USD handed over for a one year temporal residente visa is paid.
I know. I went through this transaction a couple of weeks ago. In addition, I handed over my passport and my current temporal residente visa card. Heaven help me if I get stopped by the Federales for some unknown reason, as I have no ID except for my Mexican drivers license and my INAPAM card. The INAPAM card is issued to expats and citizens to acquire discounts on meds, bus fares and various other items. I have rarely been stopped by the Federales, so don't worry. And, when I have, I've always talked my way through, in English, of course. That's another story.
I took a photo three years ago of the office that I went to a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to show the progress they have made in the office this year.
Same Facilitator, Patty Garcia, same man who takes your photo for the card. He also makes sure your hair, not one strand, is on your forehead and all is behind your ears. NOW he has a headband. A new addition, which makes it easy to comply with the photo requirements.
There is no typewriter because the systems are now all computerized. No big rubber stamps to bang on each sheet of paperwork as there was 15 years ago. Same three blue plastic stools. Even same towel over the big printer as there was three years ago.
You might wonder how I can have a temporary visa for all these years. Several reasons. One, it wasn't a big deal when I first came, but one did have to be here for so many years before one could go permanent.
Finally, about four or five years ago I attempted to go permanente, but in the middle of the process they changed the requirements and did away with a classification and somehow, even though I paid for a permanent visa and went through all the rigamarole to get it, I ended up with a temporary visa again.
This was a good thing in the end as at this very same time, the law regarding imported vehicles changed and if someone had a permanent visa they could no longer have a US plated car if it was not made in Mexico, the USA or Canada. Part of the NAFTA requirements that went into effect. Whew, I was relieved that somehow I was spared that costly aggravation as my dependable, sturdy car was made in Japan.
Some other things, personally, have changed in the last three years. One is that I need the car now more then ever for around town. After a really bad fall on my right knee in March, along with balance issues, I'm way too hesitant to walk down the hill anymore. Believe me, it was easier to walk then drive, but, so be it.
Ironically, when I did get the temporary visa renewed three years ago, I thought that was it. I thought this year at renewal time I would have to go permanent. I had tried every way to find a legal way to keep the car in Mexico. Then Patty and I went to Immigration to make sure that I had to go permanent. The agent put my visa number in the computer, yes the computer, and gave me the verdict. Voila, no the agent said, I had one more year. Really? How the heck did that happen? One learns to accept and not ask questions.
Another interesting thing, on this one year temporary resident renewal, they required no proof of income. After the fiasco I went through four or five years ago, I was relieved. Again, one accepts and asks no questions.
Something else very interesting and somewhat upsetting happened when I went to see the immigration agent a month ago as to whether I had to go permanent. A van was pulled right up to the steps that go up into the Immigration building. On the windows of the van there were bars inside the van. "What the heck?", I thought. Then a uniformed man came out with a young man about 20, a little girl about 8 and another young man. They were each carrying a backpack. They were being treated with respect but I could tell that they had been somehow apprehended for heading North from Central America. My stomach was in a knot.
I asked Patty, who just about lives at Immigration because she facilitates for many, many people if this is common. "Yes", she replied, "More and more". About that time the uniformed men were carrying out some more of the trios belongings. It was distressing to think of people so young making this dangerous trek and now being returned to horrible conditions. They are not immigrants. They are refugees.
However, on the other hand, I hope that they are flown back home and don't have to go through whatever they had gone through to get this far North. What is the answer? I have no idea. It is just a tragedy and sad thing to see. I've not been able to forget those young people. Probably never will. I still think, after all these years, about the 16 year old young man working in the parking lot of Walmart from Nicaragua. He was trying to get to Michigan where his uncle and father were working. Oh my, all I could think about was my 16 year old granddaughter with her own room in Houston and all the security and possessions she has with no fear or danger as these young people endure.
I will tell you this, strange as it may seem, in the 40 years I've been either doing business in Mexico or living here for the last 15, these are the only people I have ever seen trying to get to the border. As many times, probably at least a hundred, that I have driven across the various border crossings, I've never seen one human or in the fields or desert. And I look too. So, the media coverage and TV shows on that subject are way out of proportion as to what reality actually is, in my humble opinion and by my observations.
Supposedly I'll have my one year visa this coming week.........or the next.......or whenever. Then, next year it will be Permanente. We'll see if I can figure out a solution for keeping the car. Where there is a will, there is a way, as "they" say.