This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, celebrated in Massachusetts in 1621 by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans from the Wampanoag tribe. To commemorate this grand occasion, researchers here at the Asylumist have unearthed the original immigration file of one of the Pilgrim families, William and Mary Brewster, and their children Jonathan, Patience, Fear, Love, and Wrestling (and yes, those are their real names; if you don't believe me, look it up). Here, for the first time, is that story.

The Brewster family arrived in North America on the Mayflower on November 21, 1620. They and their shipmates did not encounter anyone from Homeland Security, and so they entered without inspection and immediately began working without authorization to find food and shelter. But the land was barren and frozen, and the Pilgrims began to die off one-by-one. Seeing their plight, a group of Native American activists, calling themselves No More Deaths, illegally provided food to the beleaguered migrants. The Wampanoag council later charged these do-gooders with felony alien smuggling and other crimes, but failed to obtain a conviction. Predictably, this encouraged more Europeans to make the dangerous journey to America. These included nonconformists and Anabaptists, though some, we assume, were good people.

Concerned about the open borders and the flood of differently-raced people arriving daily, some brave citizens, led by Chief Steve Bannon, a/k/a Sitting Bullshit, began raising wampum for the "We Build the Wall" foundation, which--as the name suggests--planned to build a wall. Sadly, and despite their good intentions, the team behind We Build the Wall committed fraud and stole all the money.

Meanwhile, the Brewster family began the immigration process by filing for asylum using form I-589. They mailed their application to the TSC--the Tecumsah Service Center. Sadly, like many Shawnee people, Tecumsah was a stickler, and returned the application to the Brewsters for failing to write "N/A" in response to questions that did not apply (such as "phone number"). The Brewsters diligently corrected the form, only to have it sent back again. This time, because they were using an outdated version of the form, which expired on 10/18/1621. They should have used the more current, but otherwise exactly the same version, dated 04/29/1622. Happily, the third time was a charm, or perhaps Tecumsah was napping and let it slip, and the application was accepted.

In those days (pre-Trump), an asylum applicant could file for an Employment Authorization Document 150 days after the form I-589 was received, and that is exactly what the Brewster family did. Less then two months later, they received their EADs. To their fellow colonists, this seemed unusually quick, and so the family was promptly accused of witchcraft and the use of "maleficent magic." Happily, the family was saved when their accusers realized that Wrestling Brewster's EAD misspelled his name (as "Wrasslin"), thus rendering the document invalid. Though they avoided the gallows, the faulty EAD made Wrestling ineligible to work, and he lost out on a valuable internship opportunity at the local saddlery.

In the early 1620s, the backlog was still in its infancy. According to data from TRAC Immigration, there were 7 cases pending in 1625 (we could not find data for earlier years). So after a mere 18 months, the big day arrived and the Brewsters appeared for their asylum interview.

Things got off to a rocky start when the officer grilled William about how he prepared his application. Was he even fluent in Olde English? It went downhill from there, as the officer honed in on the Brewsters' failure to file for asylum within one year of dropping anchor. Fortunately, the family was able to demonstrate "extraordinary circumstances" based on various privations, including an almost total lack of victuals during their first months in the New World. The remainder of the interview was a breeze, given William Brewster's long history of annoying King James by publishing one interminable religious pamphlet after another. The interview ended with the "bar" questions ("Are you a criminal or a terrorist?" "Do you plan to steal all our land?" "Do you intend to use us for sports mascots, TV sidekicks or to sell margarine?" etc.). These nearly tripped up Mary Brewster, who in true Puritan fashion denied that she was worthy of salvation on Earth and said she would claim her reward in Heaven. After a few sharp kicks under the table from William, Mary "corrected" her response to indicate that no, she did not in fact own any smallpox-infused blankets, and this seemed to satisfy the Asylum Officer.

After the interview, the family waited for their decision. And waited. And waited. William Brewster began losing his hair from the stress. Patience Brewster changed her name to Where-The-Hell-Is-My-Decision Brewster. Finally, after many months, the Wells Fargo wagon was seen coming down the street, bringing something very, very special--an asylum approval!

And so our tale of the First Thanksgiving comes to an end. While we can celebrate the happy result for the Brewster family, there is a less than satisfactory denouement to our story. On the one-year anniversary of their asylum grant, in 1631 Anno Domini, the Brewsters submitted their Green Card applications to the Tecumseh Service Center. But as of this writing, the TSC has yet to issue the cards and the applications remaining pending, apparently still within the normal processing time....

C'est la vie, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally posted on the Asylumist: