Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: Immigration and In-Laws

Every week, Danny M. Lavery and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: immigration and in-laws.

Daniel Lavery: The answer is never, you tell them never, you do not ever give these people any information that they could use to hurt you, which they have made pretty clear they WOULD use to hurt you

Nicole Cliffe: Absolutely not


Not their business

Daniel Lavery: Anyone who asks you if you “have your papers” does not have your best interests at heart

Nicole Cliffe: it’s only your business and your partner’s business and “what a thing to say” is perfectly adequate

Daniel Lavery: what a fascist thing to say!

Nicole Cliffe: people are MONSTERS, asking people questions like that

Daniel Lavery: just casually dropping “where are your papers?” over dinner like Christoph Waltz at the farmer’s dinner table in Inglorious Basterds

Nicole Cliffe: truly, truly outrageous

Daniel Lavery: I mean, the bigger concern here, for me, is that this LW seems to feel like this is something she’s withholding from a group of people who ought to know by virtue of being her future in-laws

Nicole Cliffe: It has nothing to do with them, she is not asking them for any immigration assistance

Daniel Lavery: this is not like — “Oh, my partner and I plan on never having kids, and I don’t know how we’ll break it to their parents”

never tell them, lie to them if you have to cheerfully and with a clear conscience

Nicole Cliffe: i would not ask a dog if he had his papers

and not just bc dogs cannot talk

Daniel Lavery: it was a hostile remark designed to make the LW feel panicked and scared, and like she’s not as good as the rest of the family

“Obviously WE have a perfect right to be here — explain yourself to me”

not that it would have been okay if he worked for the government in the Documents Processing Department

Nicole Cliffe: Nope!

Daniel Lavery: I really hope you and your partner can talk a little bit about what this might look like once you two are married

because there is almost certainly a racist/xenophobic component to this family dynamic that I think would be present regardless of your document status

Nicole Cliffe: The LW definitely feels like she is a problem instead of a person, in this letter

Daniel Lavery: and I’m glad your partner is prepared to look after your interests and seek out ways to protect and defend you

but I just worry about the idea of your spending a lot of time with these people

I don’t want to assume the LW isn’t already well-resourced but just in case I’m going to include a link to the national immigration law center here.

but your partner’s family have made it really clear that, at best, they want to extend to you some sort of token “good immigrant” status at the expense of other immigrants

those are not people you should trust further than you can throw

Nicole Cliffe: Ughhhh I’m still reeling at this question

Not surprised, JUST MAD

Daniel Lavery: Protect yourself, do not expose you or your family members to unnecessary threats by random people who think they have the right to demand information about your “papers” by virtue of where they were born

I hope someone takes a minute to remind them the Sensenbrenner bill died in the Senate a long time ago

I suppose my final thought here would be that even if you don’t care to take into account the foundational, imperial violence of the USA, the fact that its borders have expanded due to military invasion, and the history of racist nativism in the context of immigration

it’s still true that immigration status isn’t handled by your partner’s uncle just because he was born in a certain state and is idly curious and hostile

Nicole Cliffe: Amen to that.

Daniel Lavery: he has no right to this information, never give it to him, look after yourself

and in general, if you ever find yourself asking another person “Where are your papers,” you are a villain

Nicole Cliffe: it’s not a question that I get asked as a white immigrant; the racial lines are very clear there

Daniel Lavery: unless it’s like, taking a ticket stub at the movie

that’s fine

Nicole Cliffe: no one has assumed I did not belong in their space or asked intrusive questions about EXACTLY HOW I GOT HERE, YOUNG LADY

Daniel Lavery: remember going to the movies?

the last movie i saw in theaters was The Boy II, by the way

do you remember what yours was?

Nicole Cliffe: also a reminder that the spigot on “legal” immigration has been turned almost all the way off and I certainly would not have gotten my original work visa in today’s nation

I saw Endgame, I HAVE CHILDREN. Remember when you asked me if I had seen the new Star Wars yet and I said “no bc of the kids” and you said “I never thought you would do that to me”

You were right to do it

Daniel Lavery: I was so hurt

that you would use basic information about your own life

to remind me that I forgot basic information about your life

Nicole Cliffe: TO BE FAIR it’s more that we would have to wait until like 6:30pm to see a movie and you know how sleepy I get

I have gone to bed in the full swing of a party I am throwing and just said “please do not break anything and close the door behind you, stay as long as you want”

I missed a small, relaxed semi-orgy once, which transpired after I had gone to bed

I am a good hostess

I’m glad they had a good time

I was extremely asleep

Also I pre-ordered The Boy II, should I watch it today while I work?

The first movie brought me such intense joy

Daniel Lavery: bless you

yes, do, it’s very odd