Here’s a story about survival in San Diego.

I heard last week from Bill Curtis. He was the one in that story I wrote last fall called “The Lure of Wichita.” Curtis is an engineer who finished his degree at UCSD right as the housing market had reached a feverish pace, and decided not to jump into what he found to be an overheated market.

Curtis fit what I called the six-figure renters — San Diegans who earn a comfortable income, but have decided to rent and wait as housing values deflate. Curtis issued the San Diego housing market an ultimatum: if prices don’t crash by January 2009, he’s going to Wichita, Kan.

“You know how much a house costs in Wichita?” Curtis said. “I could get three houses for what I’d pay for one here.”

This time when I heard from Curtis, it wasn’t about the housing market. I thought his story was fascinating, and wanted to share it with you. Here’s what he had to say:

My wife is from China, she is an English teacher. Now we are married and living in San Diego, as you already know from your story you wrote about us a few months ago. Well, now she is due to have a baby this summer and we are going through the process to have her mother come here to visit and take care of my wife after the baby is born. See, my wife has already endured three (yes 3!) miscarriages, so you can imagine how concerned she is as this most recent pregnancy progresses. We even have a note from her doctor requesting assistance from the mother. 

Here is the issue. We are going through the visa process, completely legally, to get her mother here to help, and it was denied!  … We paid the fees to the US government, we paid for her mother to travel all the way to the US Embassy in Guangzhou (the worst city in the world FYI), her mother took 10 days off to make the trip, she finally got into the interview where they asked her only two questions, and then said DENIED! 

Let me assure you that traveling in China is no easy task. Also keep in mind that her mother has her husband, 3 other children, two houses with constituent farms, and the rest of the extended family (~20 other members) all there in China. There is no way she will abandon all that to become some sort of fugitive, illegal immigrant, here in USA.  Combine this with the fact that we make more than $100K / year, so her mother would not be a ward of the State by any means. What sort of country would deny a grandmother from seeing her grandchild, and helping her daughter with medical issues? Just imagine you in her mothers shoes, and some embassy told you NO you can’t visit your daughter and grandchild. See what I mean?

So my question is, if all this does not qualify her mother to come here for a 6 month visit for medical reasons, then what on earth does qualify?

Curtis said the ordeal has already cost him $300. And the fee would have to been paid again if he tried again, which frustrates Curtis even more:

For what, to be denied again? I expect this sort of incompetence and corruption when I deal with the Chinese government, but from our own US embassy? The US embassy in Guangzhou is really a disgrace.

Curtis said he’d written to Rep. Brian Bilbray for help last week.

Thoughts? Similar stories? Send me an e-mail.

KELLY BENNETT

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