USCIS Biometrics and Threat Levels

Good Man had his fingerprinting appointment today, down in Alexandria, at 10 am. Good Man wanted to leave at 8:30. According to GoogleMaps, it takes a half an hour to get there, 40 in traffic, and all the roads were marked green in that direction. We left at 8:50 and got there at 9:30, and that was after I missed the turn for the ASC (Application Support Center).

I’ve gotta hand it to USCIS—we were in the office at 9:30 and back in our car at 9:44. They did did full hand prints and then individual fingerprints, and they took his photo for the EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

In the 13 or so minutes I was in the office, I saw three women show up with ID that didn’t match their application. Come on, ladies. If you get married and change your name, get some ID! If you’ve already started some sort of immigration application and get married later, wait until you’re done to change you name! Don’t give USCIS any reason to throw you in a “too tricky to deal with today, let’s wait until tomorrow” file. “This is my married name” isn’t going to fly.

Also, the notice clearly says no cell phones are allowed inside. So why were people showing up with cell phones? At least seven people were sent back to their cars to put their phones away. And then there was the poor woman who said, “But I came on a bus, I can’t put it in my car.” Well… (She did eventually go outside. I don’t know what she did with her phone.)

Now, to be fair, the notices only come in English. But there’s a ton of info out there in multiple languages about what the notices say and you’re allowed to bring an interpreter to help you fill out forms (and maybe to help you speak?). Heck, we can find the citizenship test questions in Hungulized English.

질: 후 워즈 더 펄스트 프레지던트 오브 더 유나이티드 스테이츠 오브 어메리카?

답: 조지 와싱턴.

Now, apparently the Department of Homeland Security threat code (or whatever that dumb thing that’s never been on green or blue is called) is yellow. According to a sign that was up that meant that they were only taking scheduled appointments for that day. But I’ve read multiple times on the internet about people getting in days or even weeks early, as long as they have their notice. If it’s never been below yellow, that shouldn’t be possible. The sign also said no cell phones. OK, check. And the sign said no bags or briefcases, but they let me in with my (small) purse, and they let Good Man in with his laptop bag (no laptop in it). They didn’t even check our bags.

If governmental agencies don’t even take threat levels seriously, why should the general public?