My friend Faye writes up her story on Facebook of trying to get US citizenship for her child. Most of this is not due to AIT, but rather to Congress. Note how the law punishes you if you're a single mother...
How I proved that Zephyr had the right to US Citizenship -- Or How the West Wind was (Not?) Won -- Or Why Being an American is Nothing But Stress
The American Institute in Taiwan is the organization that acts as an "embassy" in Taiwan, since Taiwan has no status as a nation in the world. They force me to make an appointment on the website, but the first time I go to the website, it is broken. I have to take a US$50 40 minute taxi ride to get there with the baby. When I get there, I have to go through security checks that I have never seen visiting any public office in Taiwan, but which are all too familiar to Americans. Metal detectors, leave your phone and your laptop downstairs in their custody. I get inside and there are no elevators, but the office where I have to get papers for Zephyr is on the third floor. I proceed to carry Zephyr up and down these stairs in his stroller at least four times, as I try to collect all the things I need to get this done.
They have no one to take a photo for you in the building, so you have to go across the street to a private vendor. The Taiwanese photographer was so nice, he made extra copies for me and gave me the originals on a flash drive. When he heard that I don't get many photos with the baby, he took some extras just so I could have more happy photos with Zephyr, no charge.
First, I was told over email that I would need to have his birth certificate translated, and that I can do it myself, so I did. When I got there, they didn't like it. They wanted me to write on it that I had translated it myself, like they didn't trust me. Later, they insisted that I needed to get a special English version of the birth certificate from the Taiwanese government... pushing their paperwork onto the Taiwanese government. I didn't see what the point was, since everything on the form was then provided by me and translated by me anyway. But I did it, I went back to the clinic where I got my original birth certificate, and I wrote down on the form exactly the same information I had written in my own translation... Paid someone else to type it up. Took extra time.
Second, their website said that they could accept cash or credit card, but it turned out that their credit card machine was down that day, so it was back to only cash. I only find this out at the end of the process, so I have to carry the stroller up and down again to find an ATM to pay the exorbitant US$100 fee for Consular Report of Birth Abroad and US$105 fee for passport (US$205 total). Taiwanese birth certificate costs negative money, in fact, they gave me a gift of US$300 for having a baby, and a Taiwanese 10-year passport costs US$45 and has a turnaround time of FOUR DAYS, standard, not rushed!
Third, they informed me only after I got to the office that according to the US government, if the mother of the child is presenting her identification as an American citizen when a child is born out of wedlock in another country, I have to prove that I was ever in the United States without leaving the country for an entire year. Ever, in my entire lifetime. This would seem like a simple thing, since I have been in the United States since I was six years old and now I am 40. There are thousands of such year stints that I could point to. However, if you look into this, there is actually no way to prove this. This law really needs to be scrubbed from the books, because it is meaningless and a total stupid run around, but there's no one who will ever accomplish this task. Anyone who runs into this law will be too busy being a single mom to ever get this changed, and no one else cares about us.
In order to prove this strange requirement, I am told the only thing that would work is a transcript from either high school or college, plus summer school, or prove that I was working during the summer between semesters, or pay stubs from a year of work, or IRS records showing that I was working for a full year. I found all of these things to have no relevance to whether I was in the country without leaving, since I lived in lots of places where I could easily take a day trip to Mexico or Canada, and it wouldn't leave any trace anywhere or matter if I was in school or at work. However, that is what the AIT wanted, so I went off to find these things.
The high school was very kind about transcript, but they had to go dig up microfiche from some basement for me, I'm THAT old. UC Berkeley transcript office cost money to send transcripts, AND if you ask for one online, there's no way to get it sent to Taiwan because there was an error in the website form. The AIT agent kept insisting that it was easy to do, just click the link, but after she took the time to click it herself, it turned out that I was right, of course. I didn't have any paystubs with me... who travels with a year of paystubs, are you kidding me??
I called the IRS for my full tax transcript, and they could offer me some, but none were available for the years when I was in college, because I was a student worker, and it was too long ago. Besides, it wouldn't say "what month" or days I worked, only that I filed a form and paid some taxes. There was a whole series of calls to the IRS. The first one, I waited for an hour while listening to hold music, then they told me I would have to be standing next to a fax machine when they fax me the transcript. The second one, I went down to the 7-11 where I could receive faxes, and I waited for an hour, only to find out after all the explaining that their computer system was down. The third one, I went down to the 7-11 and waited for an hour, where my phone gradually ran out of batteries down to the last second, when they said, we hit send, but sometimes it takes the system 20 minutes to actually send it... and I kept having to keep the fax machine turned on by pushing buttons to prevent it from auto-shut down every few minutes. AND I never got the fax. Mind you, I did all this with baby Zephyr in tow, when he was only about 5 months old.
I explained the problems trying to get information to the people at the AIT, and after much discussion they said... we know what you have to do to meet the burden of proof. You have to go to the Taiwanese government and get a full record of all the times you entered and exited Taiwan. Good grief, so they push their own paperwork onto the Taiwanese government, and then what exactly does that prove? It proves when I was in Taiwan, but it says nothing about all the times I went to Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark?!? What the hell are they really getting at? It's just a huge stress for no benefit to anyone. How is it protecting or serving anybody in the US to give Zephyr and I a hard time?
I went to the Taiwanese government office and got this record in fifteen minutes, US$3, using both of my passports (Taiwanese and US), and I made one more trip to AIT to submit my papers. I asked the Taiwanese agents, do you get a lot of people from AIT? and he growled and said, yes, ever since 9/11, the Americans have lost their minds and treat everyone like terrorists. Phew! And that's how Zephyr got his US Citizenship papers, and the start of completely irrational, unreasonable control and danger to him. No terrorists are out to get Taiwanese people.
- Don't miss: Special Issue at the China Policy Institute blog reflecting on the Sunflower Movement
- In July Commonwealth looked at the growing problem of people dropping out of the workforce in their productive years so they can... take care of aging parents. People are desperate for some solution to the problem of health care for the aged.
- Suffering from cable car envy, Taichung has approved a cable car system running through the scenic mountains of the municipality. Because there is no place so beautiful it cannot be improved by the addition of totally unnecessary infrastructure. One thing I'm not worried about is safety, since there are never any landslides or earthquakes in central Taiwan. Stopping writing now, because I want to go purchase some local construction company stocks.
- This really bizarre interview in the Georgetown paper with two Taiwan academics produced some remarkably strange claims and just plain silly assertions (like Taiwan seceding from China in 1949, the bloc of undecided voters constitutes 40% of the voting population, Taiwanese don't know what they want vis-a-vis China, and when Taiwanese reject movement toward China, it means their feelings are ambiguous). I don't have time for an all points fisking... sure wish I had seen that paper given.
- Cool history: the Italian fliers arrive in Tamshui, 1925, on epic flight across the world. An old magazine report of the event. A longer description of it.
- China writer asserts common belief that Taiwanese will act out of common economic interest and vote to join wealthy powerful China. Sort of like the way Canada fell into the US union like a ripe plum, eh? Close economic relations are a powerful driver of nationalism.
- China displays one of its most common moves -- causing problems with a country it is negotiating with in the midst of the negotiations.
- Karl finds non-GMO salt
- NOT TAIWAN: Nothing like epic music in the morning.
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