Monday, September 3, 2012

We Do Have Rules

I'm no expert when it  comes to immigration but I have some experience in my short 27 years here.  And when it comes to experts, the five I am aware of, died many years ago and  those included Ghandi, Madre Teresa, Mark Twain, my dad, and Albert Einstien.   But when it comes to Mexico everyone is an expert and please don't take that the wrong way.  However, many people base their expertise on their personal experiences like, there is no tomato sauce in Mexico, you can't put toilet paper down the toilets, etc.
When it comes to legal stuff it can be pretty scary.   I belong to some Mexico forums and groups and the advice that is given sometimes is sketchy to say the least.   Many people think they can receive Seguro Popular for free just because they answer the questions a certain way and dress down.  Others think that they can import their vehicle permanently even though they have only a tourist visa or an FM3.  

Many people who carry an FM2 or an FM3 think it is a free pass in and out of Mexico.  Not!  Mexican law is just as detailed and clear as in any other country.  There may be circumstances where you can cheat the system because of corrupt officials or people who are corrupt and working the system.  One thing I do know and one that can get someone in deep doo-doo, is to not check in and out of Mexico when they travel to the U.S.  If you are on an FM2/3, it is obligatory to request a Salida on exiting Mexico and an Entrada when entering Mexico.   By law, you are only allowed to be out of the country for "X" number of days per year.   They may not check every time, but god forbid you get caught with your pants down returning to Mexico and you haven't filled out the FMM form, you will be charged a hefty fine and can have your documents taken away.  

This is a two way system.  Every time the U.S. makes a change in immigration, temporary or permanent, Mexico follows suit.  Just like Mexicans visiting the U.S., or permanent residents, they have to prove their status and check in and out at the border.  Being a U.S. resident isn't a pass Go card.  If they find out you are not living in the U.S. you will lose your status and it can be for up to 10 years.  Sure, there are the Sentry lanes that qualified U.S. residents can use, but it is basically the same thing only an express version.

I can speak from experience on three occasions.  Once while working as coordinator in a school, the neighbors weren't happy with the parking situation in front of their houses.  Someone called immigration to report me as an illegal.  I received a summons to appear in immigration with all of my documents.  That happened twice.  Another time, our neighbor hired an architect who had no scruples and was digging under the foundation of our house.  I got in several fights with him and he reported me.  He told me he would and I told him I was a legal beagle.   Again, I had to appear in immigration.  Gringos are deported from Mexico all the time and for many reasons, just like the the thousands of illegals passing through Mexico. 

Imagine, last month I received an email from someone in Mexico who had their U.S. license plates stolen.  They couldn't understand why the transito were stopping them and if there was a way to get exact copies from the state of Texas.  Are you joking????  I told the person they needed to stop driving the car, file a report with the police, call the state of Texas and ask what the procedure was.  I told the person they would most likely have to go to Texas and file a report and purchase new plates.  They asked, "So will I be stopped along the way through Mexico?"  Come on, of course you will be.  Take a bus to the border depending on what the state of Texas says. 

I could go on but you get the idea.   As I say many times, KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!

1 comment:

  1. Good post Chris. People do seem to think they can do most anything once outside the US and the cops are being corrupt if they say anything. The ones I like about the corrupt police stopping people for speeding just to get mordida... but gee, it turns out they were only going 65 mph in an 80 km/hr zone. But it happens in the US too. People think they can effectively live in Arizona but since they are living in an RV, they can claim to be a resident of Texas or South Dakota and not pay AZ taxes.