Finding Another Home.

One of the hardest decisions my wife and I had to make was to move out of our apartment. After taking a long and hard look at our finances, it became crystal clear that breaking our lease and moving out would save us a boatload of money. Money we would need to sustain us up until we got deported, and money to help us settle in our home country.

At first, we considered moving in with extended family, but we didn’t want to be burdensome. So we took the next logical step and logged onto craigslist.com to find someone who’d be willing to rent out a room to us.

Doug had put an ad on Craigslist saying that he had a room to rent to someone who was drug-free, without drama and who communicated well. Though it kinda sounded like an ad for an online dating site, I thought I’d take the chance and give Doug a call. The very first thing he asked me was if I was real. This strange question should have been a dead giveaway that Doug was one fry short of a Happy Meal, but I was so focused on finding a place to live that I didn’t pay it any mind.

We set up a day and time to meet. Doug explained that he preferred that we first meet at a restaurant in his city. The restaurant, he said, was inside a gas station. Being a man of extreme caution, I made my wife tag along as my bodyguard and chaperone for the meetup. Doug was a big, tall and imposing senior citizen of the Caucasian persuasion. Besides his ball cap which had the words ‘USS Ronald Reagan’ on it, he wore blue jeans and a blue t-shirt that had an image of the twin towers and the words “Never Forget” beneath them.

After exchanging greetings, Doug listed his demands and requirements of us. 10 seconds into his oration, it was clear to me that he was looking for a girlfriend and a psychiatrist instead of a tenant. The coup de grâce was when he asked my wife and I if we were born-again Christians, and what our political beliefs were. I told him that my political beliefs were personal and it was at that point his tone changed. Doug remarked that he wasn’t willing to rent his room to us because I was being secretive about my political beliefs. Needless to say, the meeting was over.

As we drove away from that gas station/restaurant I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Doug. Even though Doug, a self-described born-again Christian had every right in the world not to rent out a room to us, he’d just shut his doors to a decent couple that was desperately in need of a good Samaritan.

After meeting with a few other Craigslisters, we decided to stay put, rather than move out. We’d come to the conclusion that our lives were already complicated enough, and the last thing we wanted was to involve complete strangers in our tumultuous affairs. Our game plan was to stay in our apartment up until the day Barack Obama decided to deport us.

 

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So you’ve been caught by Immigration, what’s next?

First of all, I would like to say that I am really sorry that this has happened to you. I remember when it happend to me. I was so scared, paranoid and traumatized. My heart would race whenever anyone knocked on my door. I also had trouble sleeping and had numerous nightmares.

Now that you have been busted, you probably feel like your life is over. However, I would like to tell you that it isn’t; your life has just began.

The US immigration system is set up to make your life a living hell. They want to break down your spirit and frustrate you so that you can either kill yourself or deport yourself and they will try their darndest to do so. Please don’t let them. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Here are a few suggestions to guide you through this insanely scary time:

1. Dont Panic: It is easy to freak out and even lose your mind. Doing so will bring great joy to those clowns who caught you. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Panicking only made me hysterical and hard to live with. The last thing you wanna do is be a burden to yourself and those around you. So don’t panic. Resolve to take things one day at a time.

2. Don’t Hide: Deportation is such a personal thing; not every one of your friends and loved ones will know, understand, fathom or comprehend what you are really going through. Because of that you may feel tempted to become a recluse, to hide yourself from everybody. Please don’t do that. Whenever you are tempted to withdraw from those around you, force yourself to spend more time with them. Doing so will help you heal and prevent you from being self absorbed.

3. Be Tight-Lipped: The day I got arrested, I told a friend about what happened to me. Before I knew it, word was all over the place with the juicy details that pertained to my arrest and release. I felt betrayed. I forgave the dude but I learned a valuable lesson that day. Be very cautious about whom you tell your story. There are people out there who revel in the fact that someone has been arrested. It makes them feel relieved because at least it wasn’t them. I tell you, this situation will make you quickly realize who your real friends are.

4. Sell, Sell, Sell: You are being deported. There is no need to hang on to most of the things you have. Plus you will really need all the money you can get your hands on because you are not supposed to work and yet you are meant to provide bond money, buy a one-way ticket home, hire a lawyer, drive to court and to the office where you will be reporting to your Deportation Officer, etc.

If you are going to sell your stuff, start by selling them to your friends and then, later on, to the public on a site like Craigslist. I have also got to warn you that Craigslist has some crazy ass homo sapiens, so be on your guard when dealing with them. Most will wanna buy your things for free and even have the audacity to ask for a discount.

5. Carry your Papers: This is to me the most demeaning, humiliating part of this whole deal. You must carry copies of your deportation papers everywhere you go. Yes, everywhere you go. From now on they will be an unwanted, but necessary appendage. Everyday I carry those papers I feel as though I’m in Nazi Germany, but it’s for my own good. Not having your papers on you could result in immediate detention and possible deportation. Nobody wants a premature deportation; I know I don’t. Carry your papers.

6. Find a Lawyer: It is important for you to begin to shop for a good lawyer to represent you. If you are clueless when it comes to finding an immigration attorney, you are in luck. Check out this post I wrote on How to pick an Immigration Lawyer.

7. Don’t Do Anything Stupid: You may have been under the crazy illusion that you have the same rights as an American. My friend, I hate to bust your bubble and tell you that as a foreigner, and especially as a person in deportation proceedings, you don’t have much in terms of rights. An American dog probably has more rights than you. So please, for the love of God, don’t rob someone. Also, don’t drink and drive – that’s just stupid. Don’t do it.

8. Choose Life: A while ago, a friend of mine committed suicide because he had immigration issues. His death was a big loss to so many who knew him. He was a really, really cool guy and I still miss him. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please realize that many people going through deportation have the same thoughts. Deportation is hell, and most people going through it feel tempted, from time to time, to end it all once and for all. If you are at that point in your life, please seek help. Trust me, I have been there. The threat of deportation can make you wanna do crazy things. Killing yourself shouldn’t be one of them.

Connect with a local church, religious community, support group, or any positive organization that will prevent you from losing hope. Right now living may not seem worth it but trust me: your best years are still ahead of you!

409,849 immigrants deported and counting…

In the year 2012 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announced that they had deported 409,849 immigrants.

Wow! I guess for that ICE deserves an applause and a cookie. Jokes aside, I would like to congratulate ICE for lying to the American people. They lie that they are “focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens (whatever that means), with more on convicted criminals.”

If they really were doing that then why did they arrest me? I had no criminal record. I was in fact a law abiding human being whose only crime was that I was an international student who had fallen out of status. My arrest was a waste of tax payers money…come to think of it, I’m also a tax payer! ICE, it just dawned on me that you wasted MY money arresting me.

The last thing I want to do is make this post all about me so lets get back to congratulating ICE because clearly they deserve it. ICE, I wanna congratulate you for breaking apart and tearing apart friendships, marriages and families. I hope you sleep well at night. Congratulations also for kicking out mostly poor and needy people. People who are tired, poor, homeless, huddled, all yearning to breathe free. As a victim of your overzealousness I congratulate you.

There is very little justice in the current immigration system. It really needs to be done away with or reformed. It is my hope that one day real justice will prevail and all the 11.1 million plus illegal immigrants will get to live freely in this country without fear of being deported.

“The New Colossus” a sonnet by Emma Lazarus (1849–87)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

My Story.

Everyone who has ever been deported or is in deportation proceedings has a story. Some peoples stories are sad, others tragic, others are absurd. Mine my friend was the latter.

How and where did I get “busted”? Well, I’m embarrased to say that I was busted while I was using the bathroom. Yes, I was on the porcelain throne, the mighty John…I was in the crapper when a whippersnapper of an Immigration and Customs Agent (ICE) burst into my bathroom and asked me to show him where my hands were and step out of the bathroom. This guy had a gun, a badge and a mean looking face. This guy was the real deal.

I remember that day really vividly. Before that, ICE agents were to me an urban myth. A thing of legend. I had heard rumors that the immigration agents in Texas had been cracking down on international students who had overstayed their visas. For some reason I felt immune to the wrath of ICE but it turns out that my days were numbered. My day of reckoning had arrived I was about to be ICE’d. Continue reading

Why blog about my deportation?

Ok, I will be the first to tell you that I’m not a great writer. Yes, I’m no Hemingway. Because of that, from time to time my wording and sentence construction will be at par with that of a 5th grader.

That said, this is my online journal, in it are my views, my experience, my nightmare and if it helps even one person go through this nightmare of a process and come out of it triumphant I will feel like my blogging was worth it.

So here goes nothing….