Yesterday, custom officials at Seatac detained my husband in order to convince him to surrender his Green Card because they said that holding a Green Card was a privilege rather than his right. They maintained that a Green Card only gave a foreign national the privilege of residing in the United States because a Green Card is not a “travel document”. Their language use implied that as a Green Card holder my husband did not have the right to freely enter and leave the United States. However, when my husband and I entered Seattle, we had been abroad roughly half a year, well under the one-year time limit on overseas stays for Green Card holders. In other words, my husband had the legal right to freely enter the United States. Thus, the officers had to convince my husband to surrender his Green Card because it could not be revoked legally.
I am distressed and saddened by yesterday’s events. I am distressed because by choosing to interpret my husband’s right to freely enter and leave the United States as privilege, the officers chose to undermine my husband’s legal rights, rights in which all Americans have enshrined in the Constitution. I am saddened because those same actions imply that the officers also chose to close American borders to my husband without considering that there are many ways of being an American family in a globalizing world.