Dear US Immigration Officer who confused me for a criminal,
I understand I make things harder for myself by having four names. The last time I came into the country you asked me why I did this. Well, you don’t really pick your own name, right? I mean, my parents picked mine. First, there’s the Latin American tradition of having two last names. Torres and Medina are my last names. Torres belongs to my dad, and Medina to my mom. You know that. You have my info. Then there’s my mom’s desire to give me a slightly different name than my father. Carlos is my dad’s name, and since my mom didn’t want me to be just Carlos Torres like him, she added the Felipe. I like that name.
To clarify, my name is Carlos Felipe Torres Medina. But you know that. You have my info. That’s the name on my passport. That’s the name you put in your system and gives you a result that I imagine pops a red flag on your system. I imagine there’s a literal tiny red flag on your screen every time you do this, but I can’t know because we are separated by thick glass, and your computer screen has that “no snooping” 3M plastic film over it.
You’ve never told me who’s the bad guy who shares any combination of my names and makes the little red flag pop up. I have this list of suspects. Tell me if I got it right.
– Carlos Torres: Male, 37. Wanted by Modesto, CA police for a murder on Nov. 23, 2003
– Carlos Torres: Male, 27. Wanted by Houston, TX police for murder and fleeing arrest in 2014.
– Carlos Torres: Male, 37. Registered sex offender
– Felipe Torres: Male. Real name, Carlos Arturo Velandia. Former Colombian guerrilla leader.
– Carlos Medina: Male. Victim of murder in Kodiak, AK
If I did find the person you and your colleagues mistake me for every time I come into the United States, I’d like to clarify that I am not them. Now that we’ve cleared that up, could I ask you for a few things? I know this is probably overstepping my boundaries as a “non-resident alien,” but I think it’s worth a try.
1. Could you not make fun of my situation if it indeed does happen again? Don’t say stuff like “Every time? It sure sucks to have your name” or “blame your momma and poppa” (which you did). Maybe you’re just trying to be nice, but when you’re all in uniform and have my passport with my student visa, all my documentation, and all my info, it’s a bit scary.
2. Could you not attempt to make small talk about the Hulu show 11.22.63 while you hold my documents? Also, could you not wave all my documents around in your hand as you explain to me why the book’s ending is “crap”?
3. Could you not take me to the back room with all the actual criminals? I’m a bougie kid from Latin America — not any of the guys listed before.
4. If you have to take me into the back room, could I be allowed to text? Like I said: I’m a bougie kid from Latin America.
In our last meeting, you joked about my name, then recommended me the Hulu show 11.22.63. You later took me to the back room with the criminals, and when I texted my friends and family about being in the room you said I couldn’t text them. After you gave me back my passport I asked you what I could do so this didn’t happen in the future. You said in your almost too typical Brooklyn accent: “Change your name! Find a good Jewish girl and marry her. This wouldn’t happen if your name was Felipe Schwartz!” I guess my question is, do you know of any good Jewish girls who are available? Preferably with the last name Schwartz? If so, call me, you have my info. All of it.
Carlos Felipe Torres Medina
Last entered the country December 28th, 2015