Monday, May 08, 2006

All posts were moved (11/2006) to

The myth of the gringo immigrant...

One of the more popular diatribes going around the internet right now is the tale of the "Director for SW Bell in Mexico" Besides wondering why SW Bell has such crappy attorneys (and wondering where the corporation's relo specialists are) I'm wondering if this "director" isn't some freeper's imaginary little friend. His story is in italics. It MAY not be a bald-faced lie, but the BOLD-FACED truth is by David Bodwell, who has lived in Mexico since 1997, and owns the Mazatlan Book and Coffee Company, in bold-face. This kind of nonsense calls for a blue-streak from me. I spent five years working in Mexico. I worked under a tourist visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval. If he worked at all on a tourist visa, he was working illegally! Although, the period between applying for the FM-3 and getting it approved is a gray area. Working during this time is usually ignored. As the right wing would ask, "what part of illegal don't they understand?" What's the difference between "technically illegal" and "illegal" (oh, it's only a crime if it's a foreigner in the U.S.) During that six months our Mexican and US Attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a FM3. It was in addition to my US passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara's was the same except hers did not permit her to work. It sure doesn't take a bunch of attorneys to get a working FM-3, especially not if you're working for an American company. The longest I've ever heard of is 3 to 4 weeks, and that's unusual. And how is showing his work permit any different than a foreigner in the U.S. having a "green card"? To apply for the FM3 I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies) of my: 1. Birth certificates for Barbara and me. They needed these to get their tourist visas, why should it be such a hardship? Besides, passports work better. 2. Marriage certificate. If the wife was coming in as a dependent on his FM-3 (or a foreign spouse into the U.S. as a dependent), this would be required. 3. High school transcripts and proof of graduation. Not true. 4. College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation. Not true. 5. Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year. Not true. 6. A letter from The ST. Louis Chief of Police indicating I had no arrest record in the US and no outstanding warrants and was "a citizen in good standing." Some consulates still require this, but I don't know of any Migración office in México that does. Or, maybe they want to keep out "criminal aliens"? 7. Finally; I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico. We called it our "I am the greatest person on earth" letter. It was fun to write. Actually, something similar to this is required, but only in Spanish for a working FM-3. Where this diatribe is wrong is that it is a letter from the EMPLOYER to Migración stating why they want to hire this person and what the pay is going to be, NOT a letter from the FM-3 applicant. The only type of FM-3 that requires a letter from the applicant is the category "actividades lucrativas" meaning that you want to open a business in México, and it doesn't need to be nearly as detailed as the writer describes. All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations and our signatures notarized. It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side and Spanish on the right. Not true, UNLESS everything is in English. It's normal to have to produce required documents in the language of the country. Any documents that the immigration folks in the U.S. require for a U.S. visa must be translated to English. My problem with this whole line is that most of the documents he mentions just are NOT required for a working FM-3. Once they were completed Barbara and I spent about five hours accompanied by a Mexican attorney touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times. At each location (and we remember at least four locations) we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences.We could not protest any of the government's actions or we would be committing a felony. We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and bribes to complete the process. You do have to affix your thumbprint to the FM-3 once it is issued, but the rest of this, especially the part about fees and ¿BRIBES? is ridiculous. If even partially true, then SWB stockholders should demand an audit. Or, they should start demanding that their "directors" have an IQ above room temperature. I've done a fair share of legal translating in Mexico, but outside of dubious website, and more dubious reporters like Lou Dobbs, I've never heard of a "felony" in Mexico, and have never found any legal translation for that Anglo-Saxon legal concept. When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by US customs in Loredo Texas. This meant we rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid. Sounds like a normal menaje de casa to me. I don't know where he got that extensive fees involved unless he was using a moving company and a customs broker and that has nothing to do with the Mexican government. We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and compliance with Mexican law. Not true. If they chose to rent something pricey, I sure hope they had a contract. Did they expect it to comply with some other country's laws? This guy sounds more and more like a spoiled brat and less and less like a director of ... anything, let alone a Fortune 500 company. We were required to get a Mexican drivers license. Not true. This was an amazing process. The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and finger print equipment and the laminating machine. We showed our US license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road. It's normal in most countries that if they recognize the other countries driver's license, they will issue one without a test. The only time I've ever had to take a test anywhere was when I didn't have the necessary endorsement on my U.S. license for the type of license I was applying for. Our only instruction was never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked. We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back. Not true. We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The companies Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. I was about twenty legal size pages annually. True, but where he gets twenty pages from I sure don't know. I don't know of ANY country where you can work legally without filing a tax return. And you certainly don't use your FM-3 number as your tax ID. You have to get an RFC from Hacienda, a one day, painless, free process. If this "director" exists, he sounds like a hapless moron who couldn't find his ass with both hands. The only thing I can think of is that he was completely clueless, and THOUGHT whatever the notario was handing him (probably their bill, various legal papers, etc.) were his tax forms. What a maroon! The FM 3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees. Not true. A FM-3 is good for only one year. It can be renewed 4 times (5 yrs. total), then you must get a new one (which is only a little more difficult than getting a renewal). The fees are approximately the same every year (They go up by the same percentage that the minimum wage goes up annually). This alone makes me dubious as to the authenticity of the tale. Either that, or SWB has some real incompetents running their operations. Leaving the country meant turning in the FM# and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs. Not true. Not within even the realm of the credible -- espcially when you recall that the usual whine is that the Mexicans don't check what's leaving their country very carefully (if at all). It was a real adventure and If any of our senators or congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico. If any of our senators or congressmen went through the process of getting a U.S. visa, they would certainly have a different attitude about the whole immigration thing. That's a NIGHTMARE! The Mexican Government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant. They never protest at their White House or government offices but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The US embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican Military surround the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect the Embassy. These protests are never shown on US or Mexican TV. There is a large public park across the street where they do their protesting. Anything can cause a protest such as proposed law changes in California or Texas. I watch Mexican news, and the protests are always covered. They do, indeed protest outside government offices and their "White House" (and outside union and political headquarters as well -- damn democracy!) . As a matter of fact, the morning traffic report usually includes the routes and hours that streets are likely to be blocked by protesters of one type or another. Why is this "director" surprised that people protest in their nation's capital. And, I'm wondering if he prefers the U.S. Embassy be left unguarded during demonstrations? Has he ever seen a demonstration in the U.S.? As I said before, just another anti-México diatribe. For those who might doubt my bona-fides, I've lived, worked, and owned a business in México for almost nine years now. I'm very familiar with what is and isn't required for a working FM-3. I fully realize that different Migración offices work differently and that the México, D.F. office is possibly the worst one for getting the working FM-3, but I also think that the writer of this diatribe probably was doing it sometime long before computerization. It's not just different now, it's a LOT different. (David is being kind -- I think the guy was either lying through his teeth, or a fuckin' moron!) Please feel free to share this with everyone who thinks we are being hard on illegal immigrants. Please feel free to call South Western Bell in Mexico City, and see if this guy ever existed. South Western Bell Parque Via No. 190 Col. Cuauhtemoc, C.P. 06500 DISTRITO FEDERAL Tel.(55)5254-2149


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for setting the record straight. His tale did sound a little too far fetch.

5/21/2006 02:51:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home