"DON'T PANIC but you're going to be deported."

Ireland has decided it’s a good idea to start deporting people – and not just any old illegal immigrant, people who are married to EU citizens and are here LEGALLY.

Naturally, this morning I was in a panic. My husband hears on the news that they were sending out letters to the people who would be deported and then, as stated in the letter, they have three options: leave willingly, be deported, or appeal. When he came into the other room to tell me what he heard I dismissed it thinking that it didn’t apply to us. That is until I read it in the Irish Times and on RTÉ.

In the article it states that non-EU spouses of EU citizens will be deported from Ireland if they have not lived in another country in the EU with the same spouse for two years before moving to Ireland. Obviously Gareth and I didn’t do this – why would we? He’s from Ireland and we LIVE IN IRELAND. I start becoming a little nervous and my manager decides that maybe it’s time we look deeper into this just in case she needs to put something in the jobs section of the paper tomorrow.

After finding SI 656, which is, from what I could gather, a mess of legalese which makes no damn sense at all so they might as well put it in Cantonese, we decide it’s a good idea for me to call the American Embassy in Dublin to see what they have to say. I get on the phone to a lovely woman with a gentle American voice and tell her that I’m an American living in Ireland for two years, seven months and one day with my Irish husband. The first thing she tells me? “Don’t panic.” If you say “don’t panic” to a person they are going to panic. By saying that you are confirming the fact that there is something to panic about but you don’t want to have to deal with the mess that is about to take place over the phone. And- SHOCK! SURPRISE! - it did.

As she tried to explain that they were as surprised as the next person about the deportations, and that they were looking into it, it was in my best interests to call the immigration office and tell them my case because non-EU spouses are being deported but they will do everything they can to make sure that they can help their innocent, sweet ex-pats I did exactly what she didn’t want me to do – I panicked. By just speaking in that “This-is-going-to-suck-for-you-but-I’m-trying-to-make-it-sound-okay” voice I started to cry, then crying turned to sobbing and even a little bit of shaking. And then it turned into the BIGGEST OVERREACTION IN THE HISTORY OF IRELAND. If I do end up being deported, it’s going to be for this, not for being married to the wrong person or even committing crimes against humanity. It’s the shaking the bawling for that’s going to take me down.

I hung up the phone and my director sat down to talk to me. They assured me that they would look into it, he would make some calls to find out what was going on, that I needed to CALM DOWN because the Irish government isn’t about to go deporting Americans any time soon.

So I calmed myself, and I spoke to my husband and I told him the situation. He tried to calm me down and explain that he didn’t think it will have anything to do with us, that the Embassy is trying to gather their information as much as we are, and if it came down to it we’d just appeal. And since I’m the cutest thing since fluffy kittens playing joyfully with a fluffy bunny, it won’t be a problem. If that failed, we’d just buy a house in the US and move.

45 minutes, 180 internet searches, and a billion phone calls later, RTÉ updates it’s news report to include the phrase “spouses of non-Irish EU citizens”. NON-IRISH. I stopped crying. I stopped sweating profusely. I stopped worry about the fate of the mailman that was carrying the letter than would send me to America without my husband; he would have to deal with my wrath if I ever tracked him down by the boxes in our lobby. My husband then sends over an email with his interpretation of the Cantonese written document. (Yes that big brain of his is a turn on.) It seems, from all angles, I’m in the clear.

I go from panic to calm* in about .01 seconds mostly because filling out forms and general hassle bothers me so much and now I don't have to go through that. The thought of going into a government office and sitting there for hours on end staring at the wall while I wait for the number 5,098,473 to come up on their little counters so I can argue that I came into the country legally two years, seven months and one day ago and therefore it should be legal now, makes me want to cry and shake and sweat. The little pencils and the stupid questions just get me all itchy. But maybe I wouldn't have thought about deportation at all if my Embassy didn't say those two little words to me: DON'T PANIC.

*This is not to say that I think it’s acceptable for the Irish government to deport people because they are illegal TODAY when they weren’t illegal last year. Ireland is making up its own interpretation of an EU directive . Right now, though, I’m just relieved it’s not me.

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Liz in Dublin