one deportation: Armando's story

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A few weeks back, I ran across the story at RaceWire of Armando, a Honduran who had lived all but 9 months of his 26 years in the U.S.  Armando wrote to RaceWire's Raha Jorjani from immigration detention about his thoughts and experiences:

I have been "detained" by the Department of Homeland Security for over ten months now, as I had been fighting my deportation case and hoping for a second chance. I really don't like the word detained because I feel it is a word used by "them" in an attempt to lessen the truth; that I am their prisoner.

It seems all I have been doing in my life is adapting to major changes, one after the other. From the loss of my father at seventeen, to adapting to military life, to getting used to a 6x9 cell. I have had to make some major adjustments and I have come to learn that change is inevitable.

However, I never would have guessed that I would now be getting ready to be deported to a country I know nothing about. I never thought I would be preparing to be banished from the only country I have known, the country I volunteered to fight for, and not to mention the country that my family lives in.


. . .

I like to think of myself as a pretty strong minded person and I can say that I have taken all that has happened recently considerably well, but the one thing that I will never forget, the one thing that really hurt me was having to tell my family of my fate. I had never felt as helpless and deeply saddened as the day I heard my mother weep on the phone after I told her I was being deported. I tried to prepare them for my possible deportation, but it was not enough. Her heart was broken. My whole family feels wronged.

Then Armando was deported.  He wrote from Honduras about what the process was like.  

I've been here a little while now and I am finally starting to come out of what seemed like a trance. The difficult part won't be finding an occupation or fitting in socially though...it´s gonna be living my life in a new world without what life is really all about... my family. I have extended family in Honduras who have really been generous But try losing your entire immediate family all at once - not too easy.

I am a firm believer in the saying, "all we have in this world is each other," and I feel like the people in this world that I would refer to as "all I have", I don't really have anymore. I'm also a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason and is part of God´s plan. For now, I guess I have to just keep my faith and wait for this plan to unfold while I hustle to make a living and make the very best of what I have been given.

My heart goes out to Armando and his family, with all the suffering they have gone through and will go through.  Read the whole article. 

Armando's story gives me occasion to link to Patrick Young's useful Immigration 101 series at Long Island Wins.  From his "Deportations" entry:

It is a commonplace to hear that the U.S. has stopped deporting undocumented immigrants and that we need to go back to some magical time, usually people cite the Reagan administration on this one, when "we enforced the law".

Actually, deportations were much rarer during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administration. Even during the early years of the Clinton presidency, only 51,000 people were deported in an average year. That had changed dramatically by Clinton's second term. Annual deportations (now called "removals") had quadrupled. In fact, deportations set a record in Clinton's last year in office, reaching 272,000 formal and expedited removals. Deportations declined at first during George W. Bush's presidency, but by 2005 they had set a new record of 281,000. Since then, the numbers have only grown.

It's interesting that the perception of a sieve-like border that has taken hold so firmly in the public consciousness so directly contradicts all historical evidence.  Our borders have never been so tightly policed and internal enforcement has never been so aggressively pursued as it is now.    

An essential part of DHS's internal enforcement efforts involves raids that target migrant communities.  In his "Raids 101" entry, Young questions DHS's stated objectives in carrying out the raids:

The Department of Homeland Security was set up after the 9-11 terror attacks to grab headlines. The creation of the new agency did little to enhance security. Its most well-publicized intitiative before the raids was Tom Ridge's eminently stupid system of color-coded terror warnings. Similarly, the raids are not carried out to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants, but rather to appease a public demanding that "something must be done".

Think about it. Between 80,000 and 100,000 undocumented immigrants live on Long Island. The big raids captured less than 200 people, leaving between 79,800 and 99,800 "illegal immigrants" living here. But the newspapers were full of the story and Steve Levy hailed the raids as the dawning of a new era.

It wasn't.

It's essentially a PR effort that serves to placate the restrictionist wing of the GOP and reassure a fearful public that Bush will protect them from malevolent Guatemalan landscapers and subversive short order cooks from Puebla. 

In other words, it's a way to perpetrate systematic human rights violations at taxpayer expense in characteristic Bush fashion.  For progressives, the relevant question becomes: Will Barack Obama commit to reversing this insane policy if elected president?


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1 Comments

Claire Comerford said:

i like your story

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on May 27, 2008 9:54 PM.

Border Agents Fall To Tempation: Pro-Migrant Sanctuarysphere was the previous entry in this blog.

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