Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Gordon Robinson | Visa rush!

Published:Tuesday | October 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM

It was Friday afternoon, but the embassy's Visa Desk was the busiest it had been all week.

As usual, thousands of pending visa applications required processing, but what was overwhelming the department was the rising number of applicants for asylum because of alleged danger to life and limb. These applications required a more detailed investigation than the many ordinary visa requests but, even with added staff, the department was short-handed.

Neil, the IT consultant, burst into the department head's office. He wailed, "This can't go on. System overload is the new normal. The computers keep shutting down in protest. Soon they'll be carrying placards!"

Audley, the department head, wasn't amused. "This isn't comedy hour," he barked. "What would you have us do? These people are desperate to flee their hopeless lives and live in our safer, more welcoming country. They say they'll die if we don't grant them asylum. Should I tell them, 'Sorry, but our tech guy can't fix a simple computer glitch?' Should I suggest they eat crap and die? Stop whining and fix the damn thing."

As Neil left, Sonia, in charge of processing applications and arranging visa interviews, entered. "Sir, we're in trouble" she began.

"What now?" Audley lowered his head into cupped hands. "Can't you see I'm on the phone with Justice trying to get a policy decision increasing the number of refugees we're allowed to accept? This better be life or death."

"We just received an SOS from a couple trapped inside their homes with only two days of food left. No time for normal processing. Can I fast-track?"

"Sonia, you know the fast-track list now looks like the normal list. Maybe we need a fast-fast-track list. Lemme see it." She showed him the application.

"Good God!" he exclaimed. "This couple is 85 and 81 years old. They've lived on their rural farm forever. Emergency services are non-existent. Even if we give them an asylum visa, how do they get to the airport? Is there still even an airport?"

"Yes, sir, there's one functioning airport with a skeleton staff. They say friends can get them there, but they need permission to land here."

"What about the friends? How do we stop them from tagging along?'"




"Impossible! Nobody, not even police, want to stop anybody from fleeing the country. Police want to escape, too. Whoever reaches the airport will be on the plane."

"I surrender," Audley moaned. "How many so-called emergency refugees have we accepted from that God-forsaken s**thole country in the past month? One million? Two? We're bursting at the seams with refugees!"

Suddenly, Robert, the public relations officer, burst in. "Let me guess," Audley sighed. "Trouble, right?"

"Yep," Robert admitted, "with a capital 'T'. That rhymes with 'P' and THAT stands for 'poverty'! A plane just landed with 250 refugees crammed aboard but only 100 have visas. What do I tell them?"

"What you mean what do you tell them?" Audley lost all professional facade in frustration: "Tell dem di truth. Tell dem dis is 2075, NOT 2020. Tell dem dis is Jamaica, not Florida, where di coastal cities dem submerge an' di sea heading inland! Tell dem dis is di Jamaican Embassy to USA relocated to Jamrock. Dem haffi apply fi a Jamaican visa.

"Tell dem WE implemented good climate-change policies, so Jamaica still above water. Wi did tell dem fi sign di Paris Accord 60 years ago, but dem laugh at wi. Tell dem wi know dem waan' come yah fahr safeyty, but tell dem wi not mekking illegal himmigrant tu'n our borders into sieves. Tell dem wi don't care if di undocumented is madda or pickney. Separate di ones with visas from dose wit'out and put di illegals into GP! No blurdeeps exceptions! Dem haffi stay away unless dem 'ave visa. Dem nah go mash up JahMekYah like dem dunn fi dem own!"

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to