The Immigration Officer


The Immigration Officer

The Immigration Officer

Mr. My Yo Yo graduated near the top of his class from Pyonghyun University in the center of Hong Kong.  

His major dream for his future was to enter the United States to become the wealthy owner of a company.

Before he left his home in Hong Kong, he had obtained a U.S. visa and had carried the proper certificates and vital documents.  The immigration authorities in San Francisco noticed Mr. My approach the counter.  He was conspicuous.  They couldn’t help notice how the enormous burden of baggage bent the immigrant’s back, nearly to the breaking point.

Mr. My set his mountainous baggage down and presented his passport, the visa, health records, education certificates, and financial statements to the inspector.

“Do you speak English?” the man in uniform asked.  “Yes, but rather poorly,” Mr. My whispered.

“Where in the U.S. will you be living?” the officer asked.  Mr. My became nervous.  He worried that these questions would quickly become difficult.  Sweat beaded his forehead.  He felt hot.  “I will live in Hong Kong,” he sputtered.  The officer scribbled a few notes on his tablet, then continued the examination.

“When were you born?”  The question stunned Mr. My like a bullet from a rifle. “In 1968, in July,” he responded weakly. The smartly dressed officer’s yellow pencil scratched the paper again.  “And since when do you plan to live in America?” the officer asked.  “Since I was in high school – maybe even when I was in elementary school,” the quivering voice, now merely half a whisper, responded.

The timid, uncertain responses gave the tall American more force.  His thumb flew to his mouth as he wet his page-turning finger, then flipped the paper to the next page.  He immediately prepared to pounce on the immigrant like a cat on a rodent.  He inhaled deeply, straightened his back like an I-beam, and opened his mouth to deliver the next injury.

Suddenly a breath of compassion fell upon the impeccable officer.  He saw Mr. My’s thin arms, the threads on his sleeves, and his frayed collar.  He had seen the boxes and bags of luggage piled on the floor.  The whole panorama tugged at the conscience of the man asking the questions and taking notes.

At that moment, he said to the traveler, “You must be very weary.  Please come over here and rest a moment.”  Then the officer sank into deep thought and profound reflection.  He remembered some mistreatment he had received at the hand of older, bigger boys.  He re-lived momentarily, the anger and his feeling of helplessness.  He thought of his wanting to cry, to shout, to call for help.  Thank God, these memories stirred a feeling of kinship for the man who newly arrived from Hong Kong.

“We’ll have your papers ready in just a little while.”

  1. Avatar of Ken Olson
    Ken Olson says

    The last paragraph in “The Immigration Officer” contains an error. Instead of saying to Mr. My, “You must be wary.” he said, “You must be weary.” The minor mistake in spelling has a significant different meaning to the remark.

    1. Avatar of Angelica Pastorelli
      Angelica Pastorelli says

      Thank you, Ken, for your keen observation.
      You are absolutely right. We immediately corrected the error.

  2. Avatar of Ken Olson
    Ken Olson says

    The questions presented to the traveler by the officer in the original version were not answered exactly and correctly. His answers at first were a little “off”, not quite a perfect response. This made the give-and-take a little amusing. The version as it appears in the story now has a “corrected” response, a natural and normal response which makes the story a little less amusing, less interesting.

    Thank you for correcting the wary / weary error. I like it much better now.

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