Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

How the Traveling Cats Tour got its name: A Canadian Photographer On the Road

July 23, 2014


So, for the second time in my life, I’m becoming homeless. It’s not all bad though. At 60 years old, I have become a bit complacent and pot bound. Part of me agrees that it’s time to shake it up a bit. Just how much is a complete surprise to me though! Here’s a quick recap of how this all came about …

I am Canadian. I came to the US right after I lost the last close family member in 1975 and lived in Cali for a bit. In 1979, I came to Seattle and lived under the radar long before it was an issue like it is today. In 1988, I filed for Temporary Residence under the Amnesty Act of 1986 and was approved. In 1992, I filed for Permanent Residence and was approved. Or at least I thought I was. Last year, I applied for a replacement Permanent Resident’s car at the advice of Homeland Security in Tukwila, WA and was approved. Or at least I thought I was. This application went through several hands and survived an FBI check but in January 2014 I got a letter from Homeland Security stating that they had no record of my PR. I know right! I immediately went to the DHS office in Tukwila where I was told that they had been advised by their in-house legal counsel to discontinue any help and give me a list of immigration attorneys. I lost my mind! How can this happen? I actually asked the woman who started helping me that question and she let slip that whoever looked at my file (numerous people) was supposed to verify my status but no one did. And then she said it was possible that my info had been corrupted when they switched from analog to digital. Regardless of how this happened, there is no appeal. None. Nada. Enter the immigration attorneys….

I actually went to an immigration attorney, explained the series of events and asked if they could help me. Oh, one other piece of information…I was unemployed and going to school. They told me that for $1200 they would do a FOIA search for my paperwork from the 90’s. Now, anyone who understands what a FOIA is knows that it’s free! I mentioned that and was told that I probably wouldn’t ask for the right information. Really? I told the woman considering my case that I would do the FOIA myself and asked how much she would charge to help me after that if it came back with what Homeland Security found. She told me that it probably couldn’t be fixed and then added that I could live and work in the US as an undocumented alien for the rest of my life without getting caught! What? Needless to say, I left the office and never went back. What kind of attorney suggests that a prospective client break the law? And then we come to what happened with my financial aid and school…

I was working towards my BA in Human Services so that I could work with homeless teens at the time this was all coming down on me. I was into my fifth quarter and was almost done with my AA. Was is the operative word here. Once I was classified as an undoc, I lost my financial aid so Spring quarter was the last quarter I could complete. Game over. Now I had zero money. None. Nada. Enter my friends …

I love my friends. I’ve never had friends like this. Or any kind. That’s another story though. I was amazed at how my friends rallied behind me and tried to find ways to make this right. In the end though, the only realistic option is for me to go back to Canada and come back to the US and visit. A lot. No one wanted to take my case because I’m not newsworthy. You never hear about old white women from Canada who are losing everything because of INS/DHS incompetence, do you? No. So here I am….

Why the Traveling Cats Tour? Because I’m packing up my truck and my 3 cranky cats and hitting the road. Not exactly what I had in mind for an adventure at 60 years old but it IS kind of exciting! And scary as hell. I’m trying to raise money by selling prints of my work and most of my belongings. I needed to downsize anyway, pack rat that I am. Where am I going and how will I live? Well ….

I have big truck. Really big. Her name is Betty Gardner (yes, there’s a story behind it but it’s personal) and I’m still working on getting a canopy or camper for her. That way I can live quite comfortably in said truck until the weather gets too cold. Then I have to implement plan B which I really haven’t figured out yet. I have a lot of things necessary to survive including experience with staying safe and sane. As for the cats…well we’ll see.

So that brings you up to date. The Traveling Cats Tour hits the road at the beginning of August and the first stop is actually south at Hood River. I want to shoot the kite and wind surfers there before I go. I hope to meet my good Facebook friend Jock Bradley who was the first pro kite surfing photographer to like my first attempts at shooting kite surfers at Jetty Island. Then it’s back to Everett to work on my friend Roberto Soza’s kite surfing video. After that, up to Anacortes to visit another good friend, Eddie Murdock, and hopefully meet all the togs around that area that I’ve followed on Facebook for the past year. And then ….. we’ll see how the border crossing goes.

This blog will be about the adventures on the road. Watch for updates and thanks for stopping by!

Donna Read
Donna Read Visions
Traveling Cats Tour

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