More than a physical move, border crossing allows you to make an entire switch to yourself

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

Borders. Crossing them, escaping from the place I know, finding myself in this curious and thirsty mood of experiencing difference and freedom in this place where I'm a newcomer. I believe that borders have created these feelings in me since I remember. In the last few years, it almost became a necessity for me to run away from routine by making a move to 'somewhere else'. Some more place to discover, to enjoy with a feeling of having to worry about nothing but the wind on your face. One year ago, I turned depressive. In the last months, this urge to escape from what makes me suffer and I feel stuck in has become more and more pressing, until I moved to Dublin. I wanted it, despite the heartbreak caused by leaving my truly loved ones, the ones I never get bored of. However, if you can escape people and events, a disease is something you can not run away from. Things are getting more manageable, but remain far from being fixed. During the last weeks, I have been continuously asking myself the question of what does a 'move' really mean. I found out that for me, rather than an escape, moves and border crossings are mostly a way of taking some distance and put you in a mood of being ready to learn again, from others, from cultures, from differences, from freedom and experiences. More than a physical move, border crossing allows you to make an entire switch to yourself.

It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

I had an appointment booked at the PPS office in Dublin to acquire a PPS card to enable me to be part of Irish society, and received racist treatment, judgement, blocking me from getting a PPS number even though I have every right to one, and then a complete change of attitude once they realised my company had arranged the appointment for me after an international relocation.

I do not look Irish, I look Asian. After I have witnessed the rudeness to me, the deliberate obstruction of the office staff blocking me from a PPS number, and the rude attitude to others in the waiting room that I also observed, it is my belief that everyone who passes through that PPS office as an immigrant gets treated like 'scum'.

I felt that every effort was made to create a difficult situation that will block or scare or confuse those who are eligible for a PPS number as well as those who are not. I understand that some may be there asking for a PPS and benefits when they are not eligible, but I believe there is a polite, non-personal, non emotional process to determine this without creating fictional barriers, without judgement and prejudice, and without treating each candidate derisively 'until proven otherwise'.

I don't know if all staff working there have the same attitude as I only interviewed with one person. However, I do know that she had a big sign printed up telling me why I was not eligible, and the information on it was contradictory to what my relocation company (IrishRelo) had told me the requirements were. This means that the PPS office is giving out different and incorrect information, not the factual information that the relocation companies advise on and as the policies are set out.

I will explain what actually happened step by step:

  1. I have moved to Ireland with my husband who works for a corporate here, we are married so I require a PPS for tax purposes, I was also asked for PPS by my landlord (so I think you need it for renting but I am not sure), and I also want to learn to drive so I needed it for a provisional driving license.

  2. My husband went for his appointment separately to me, accompanied by Irish Relo, and he is a tall white guy - rarely running into discrimination! His experience was very pleasant, smooth, and friendly. I was not expecting anything different as I also had the paperwork from Irish relo, had gone through their checklist of what to bring, and arrived with my marriage certificate etc.

  3. When I spoke to the person in charge of my appointment, she was very rude and abrupt, I told her that my husband and I just moved over, the details of his company and that I would need the PPS for marriage tax and tax purposes, as well as to learn to drive.

  4. She said that I cannot get a PPS number unless I have proof that I need one. I showed her the marriage certificate and she said this is not proof. I showed her emails from his company and she said that this does not mean that I require a PPS or am entitled to one, just because he is working.

  5. I mentioned that I would not be able to do simple things like go to the doctors or take driving lessons if I did not have a PPS, but she said I would need proof that I am learning to drive.

  6. I explained again that I need a PPS simply to apply for the Irish provisional license so I would not be able to have proof yet - I asked what would be considered proof in my case, and she said a driving license application form. I said this was ridiculous as it takes 1 minute to download and print one and anyone can print one - it is not proof one way or the other so why did I need to provide this? It was just a way to delay me and create a barrier.

  7. I pulled out the checklist I had printed off, that Irish Relo had given me stating (in the PPS office's invite letter) the list of items I needed to have with me, and I checked off each one as present. She took the list off me and threw it in her bin, and I demanded it back.

  8. She kept saying that I need to go and get proof, and would have to arrange another appointment (which would take 1-2 weeks)

  9. Finally, I managed to point out to her that Irish Relo had sent me, at which point she suddenly realised that I should not be categorised in her mind as 'immigrant' aka 'undeserving person', but as 'high earning expat, working for a corporate'. In that moment her whole expression and demeanour changed, and suddenly she was as helpful as she could be. She produced a blank driving license application form which she had a pile of in her draw, and told me to add my name. She processed my paperwork and issued a PPS number. Why was I getting this different treatment now? Why was I a diffent case in her eyes?

  10. I was grateful that I had managed to break through her wall of prejudice, but I was so saddened at the stark contrast between her treatment of me when she had categorised me as one thing or the other, and the different treatment towards my white husband. It showed me a very two-faced organisation who, given their purpose and their audience, should surely be regulated on their treatment of people and be trained to keep a neutral response.

Whatever is happening here, and whether or not she has on other occasions been right about non-eligibility for a PPS number, there was no need for such an attitude of prejudice, derision and disparagement. I was saddened as I looked around the room and saw others who may have had much more difficult journeys to get to Ireland than I have, may need the PPS number much more than I do, and now have to face the belittling attitude of this woman as one of their first 'welcomes' into the country. Potentially other administrators have the same checklist (it was a printed out list in shouting capital letters with an official logo). I believe the checklist itself was incorrect and should not be allowed as they are the official issuing office of the PPS.

I also observed lots of processes that cause anger, annoyance and dismissive behaviour in the staff and the visitors - for example all who book appointments are given set times, (mine was 10.15), and then told to wait - we have to go in to the booth when our time-slot comes up. There was no communication that they were running over an hour late, they did not call the name of the next appointment, there was no ticket-line system, and people keep getting up worrying that they had missed their appointment or that someone else has skipped ahead. I was lucky that english is my first language and I could approach a staff member to ask, and I could also be brave enough to ask those around me and understand that they were ahead of me in the queue. Others were not feeling so brave - Especially for those who are nervous, or did not have English as their first language, this was extremely confusing. By time people get into their appointment an atmosphere of stress, worry, impatience and confusion has been created in the applicants. Meanwhile an 'observation' of how rude and impatient immigrants are, is being constantly reinforced in the minds of the administrators - surely these processes could be evolved for a better experience for all rather than fostering racism from day one?

Always on the move

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project by Nicola Anthony

Always on the move, I have always felt out of place whenever I stand still so I just keep on moving.

It marked me forever, being different

This is an anonymous story collected from the public as part of the Human Archive Project

I crossed borders literally and metaphorically. Before EU my biggest fear was immigration police. I have encountered them and I had luck not to get into trouble on multiple occasions. But it haunted me in everything I did, it marked me forever, being different, not being allowed to do things as non national, as an alien. I made the journey to change my life and I did, but fear always followed. Being told' this is my country' by a native, being told I cannot do certain things because of an accent marked my psyche.