That sorry sidewalk
Congratulations to Juliana Barbassa and the Dallas Observer for highlighting the situation at Dallas' INS building ["Huddled masses," April 8]. As a recent immigrant from England, I have had the "pleasure" of lining up overnight on that sorry sidewalk on six occasions over the past three years. Twice, my wife and I were turned away after many hours of waiting.

We're the lucky ones--my case is relatively straightforward (I'm married to a U.S. citizen), English is our native tongue, and we're a healthy young couple. It's really tough on the elderly, mothers-to-be, and parents with young children, who have to endure exactly the same conditions. In a country with such huge resources, you'd think the INS could stretch to provide a few simple benches and a water fountain!

It's ironic that in this great country, which quite rightly prides itself on respecting human rights, many arrivals' first experience at the INS seems so un-American.

Name withheld

After reading your story on the "processing of applications" at the INS, I can honestly say that you guys just touched the tip of the iceberg on this one. I, too, have had the chance to experience lines reaching around the back of the INS building in the middle of the night, waiting for the opportunity to pick up a form, ask a question, and be generally treated in a manner more fitting to a herd of cattle.

Your story will be read by many who will say we as "aliens" should be grateful for the chance to become American citizens no matter what. They will say we have no right to complain, no right to seek better, more efficient service from a government office. They will even say that those who cannot come up with the fees asked of them would do well to just go home.

I know all too well these things, having heard them firsthand from teachers, employers, and even well-meaning "friends" who are all ignorant of the fact that I am not an American citizen.

There is so much that needs to be done to address the problems facing people like myself, who have been wanting to become American citizens only to be put off by the "process." Why complain when we cannot and will not be heard? Fear of what will happen to those who complain is why so many who are lucky enough to obtain citizenship choose to forget how degrading and frustrating their road to "joining the American mainstream" was.

Until someone speaks for the "huddled masses," we can only wait, and wait, and wait...

Dulce Torres
Via e-mail

No love lost
So, did someone at the USA Film Festival [Buzz, April 8] spurn the amorous advances of one of your staff writers, or what? I can't think of many other reasons for the level of bile hurled their way these last couple of years. You crybabies bitch and moan like jilted lovers.

First, you've been critical of the festival since 1995? Funny, I remember that festival and the rave review it received from this very paper. You failed to mention that in your article. Seems you have a nasty case of selective memory.

Further, regarding the "tepid" schedule, yes, it seems that sometimes the festival presents bland mainstream films with big stars in attendance just to make some money. What do you expect? They're a nonprofit arts organization with bills to pay; they have to do this, I'm sure, to offset the fact that they program so much non-mainstream, non-moneymaking material. Were any of you there for the "Century of Cinema" series of documentaries? I was. Along with about 12 other people. How much money do you think they lost on that one? I say, let them make their money off the Dennis Quaids of the world so that I get to see things like Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan.

I'm just a regular guy who loves movies. I am also a member of the festival, and I have never been disappointed by the quality of the programming. Sure, I don't care to see Mr. Jealousy or a tribute to Christopher Walken, but I do care about the long list of films I have been able to see: Guy Maddin's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, local filmmakers Kim Flores' Vocesitas and Andy Anderson's Detention; Mod Fuck Explosion; Fame Whore; Breathing Lessons; Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore; From the Journals of Jean Seberg; John Waters hosting a screening of Boom!; Bellytalkers; The First Hundred Years; Odile and Yvette at the Edge of the World; John Greyson's Uncut; The Personals; Waco: The Rules of Engagement; and on and on. And I'll be there for Todd Oldham. He's hosting a screening of the 1970s documentary Grey Gardens, which is a bizarre little movie. I'll have reserved seats, too. Maybe I could save you one if you cheap bastards can't afford a ticket.