14z: We meet Immigration and Customs Enforcement

So, today I got called to a surprise meeting. We were about to revitalize this really elderly zombie with severe acrolysis and what appeared to be a fractured spine. I guess that this guy had been converted while he was on some big golf course in the UK, and immediately attacked a guy on a golf cart.  They somehow rolled the cart, pinning the zombie, who was then beset on all sides by golf-club-wielding oldsters and their caddies. They had really done a number on him. We were planning to do the revitalization in an OR with CT scanner. The plan was, I bite the zombie’s shin, and then they paralyze, sedate, intubate and resuscitate, and then a quick pan-scan and then straight to the OR table. Right as we were starting, I got this call. Obviously, I couldn’t shut the whole thing down for Dr. S, so I continued as planned with the revivification and then took off. It’s really not a big deal for me anyway – I just have to bite their shins, after all – but I usually like to observe and learn what medicine I can.

Dr. S was standing with folded arms waiting for me when the elevator opened in the CPTLD lobby. “So pleased you could make some time to join us. I am sure that the zombies could have waited a few minutes while we dealt with some very important visitors…” His smile never wavered, but his tone dripped contempt. We walked back to the breakroom.

Nick was already there, sitting at our little table. A morose-looking woman was seated across from him, looking around the room. A large, balding man who looked to be in his early fifties was standing next to the table smiling at Nick. Nick was pointedly ignoring him, eating kimchi with a knife and fork. Both the man and the woman were dressed in black and wearing jackets that said “ICE” in small letters in the front and big letters on the back. The jackets were sort of puffy-looking, quasi-military. I was thinking when I saw them that big black jackets with “ICE” written all over them just seem really 1990s, or even earlier, like pre-MC Hammer.

The smiling man came over and shook my hand, and I could see that he was some kind of cop. He had handcuffs and a gun in his belt, along with a couple of pouches and other vaguely dangerous-looking objects. I started to get very nervous.

The ICE-cop was effusively friendly, though. “I’m officer Speck, from Immigration and Customs. Sorry we had to call you away. Please, sit down – We won’t be taking up too much of your time.”

I dropped into a chair. Officer Speck beamed at me as if I had won a spelling bee. The woman stared at the table in front of her. “We understand that you are involved in the conversion of zombies.”

Dr. S, who was standing in a corner by a refrigerator, piped up. “Yes, officer. He’s involved. He assists in executing our revivification process.”

Our process,” I was thinking, but Officer Speck was talking. “One of the main issues that we are tasked with, as you know, is immigration enforcement. In filling that role, we are obligated to look at any possible sources of infiltration by illegal immigrants. It has come to our attention that many of the zombies warehoused at Revenant Units across the country – and I’m going to be honest here, that includes yours – may include illegal immigrants.”

Speck paused, I guess for effect. I hadn’t really considered the immigration status of the living dead, but I suppose it was true. It’s just not the sort of thing that we generally think about. And the records on most of our zombies are spotty at best – in older cases we may not even have their real names.

Speck continued: “Now, I know, you aren’t exactly in a position to inquire as to their immigration status. But you have to ask, what happens when they are revived, and sent on their way – then what? Are they simply allowed to walk free, throughout our country, as if the nation’s borders meant nothing?” Speck’s double chin wobbled with umbrage. “A nation is defined by her borders! We must protect our borders! And infiltration by illegal alien zombies is precisely the sort of threat that President Trump is concerned about.

“Now, I know, not every immigrant is illegal. Immigrants have contributed immense amounts to our country, from the Dutch, to the Germans, and even the Irish and Scottish. All good, upstanding immigrants. And even people from other places, which President Trump also cares about. Like you, for example – “ He pointed at Nick – “Where are you from?”

Nick shrugged. “Anaheim.” Speck looked confused. “It’s in California.”

Speck smiled. “No, no, I mean, where are you from?”

I broke in. “I think he was actually born in Los Angeles. Right? So you aren’t technically from Anaheim.” The morose-looking woman was staring at me as if she were about to reach for her cuffs. Speck laughed. “Okay, okay, well, anyway, wherever you’re from, you have to play by the rules. That’s the American way. We need to play fair, be aboveboard and honest, and that’s why President Trump was elected. And that is why he has concentrated on immigration enforcement, as the set of rules most being neglected in America today. Now I know, that as physicians, immigration enforcement is probably not your highest priority. But we all need to step up and do our part.”

Nick was clearly getting irritated. “So what are we supposed to do? Ask them for their passports first?”

The female officer spoke for the first time. “It’s simple. If you see someone who might be an illegal, you need to let us know before you revive them. If they are indeed illegal, then we will need to begin deportation proceedings on them.”

I looked at Nick. “So, wait, you are telling us that we need to be identifying the zombies of illegal immigrants, and then you are going to prevent revivification and deport them? Even if we were able to identify a possible illegal, we wouldn’t necessarily know which country they are from.”

Speck shook his head. “We aren’t going to deport them until the wall is built. Once we have that wall, then we are going to just drop them off on the other side.”

Nick’s eyes widened: “Wait, you aren’t even going to check which country they’re from?”

Speck nodded. “No, whether human or zombie, if we can’t tell where they are from, then we are going to send them to Mexico. I mean, that’s probably where they came in anyway.”

I looked at Dr. S, but he was looking carefully at his fingers. “Well, how are we supposed to know whether they even are immigrants, anyway?”

Speck sort of shrugged. “Well, uh, you know, sometimes….sometimes you have a clue. Like a, uh, you know…..a name…that sounds like it doesn’t belong….or, you know, maybe, in the right context….I mean, you have….like I said, clues! Clues. Like, for example, when I look at you” – he pointed at Nick again  – “I can tell….there are clues….that you aren’t from here. I mean, from here….right?”

There was a pause.

I said, “He’s from Anaheim.”

Nick shook his head. “Actually, I’m from LA.”

“Well – “ Speck was flustered. “Well, if you see something, say something. That’s what I mean. See something, say something.”

There was another pause. Then Nick laughed abruptly. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Illegals don’t tend to be insured, right? But we are doing all of our revivifications based on whether or not the patient can pay for it. So we really haven’t been doing anybody except mostly elderly wealthy people.”

“What?” Speck looked shocked. “You’re kidding me! That’s unethical!” The policewoman had a look of open horror.

Dr. S broke in. “I think that’s enough. We don’t need to get into the specifics of our challenges in maintaining a payer mix that enables us to accomplish our core missions.” He looked murder at Nick, who had gone back to his kimchi. “Anyway, we have understood your message, which I think boils down to ‘If you see something, say something.’ And we will, indeed, I promise you. We will certainly say something, if we see something.”

The policewoman still looked scandalized, but Speck was back to his cheerful self immediately. “Yes, that’s it, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Dr. S has our contact information, so if you see something, say something – to Dr. S – and then he’ll say something to us – and then we can take care of it!”

So, now we are supposed to be doing immigration enforcement. I’m going to basically ignore this, but I guess it does open up a new set of complications. Like, supposing we do revivify a zombie who turns out to be an illegal – are we then accomplices to some sort of a crime? It’s kind of a mess.

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