Nativism: May 2008 Archives

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.


Nina Bernstein at the New York Times brings us another story of government immigration overreach.

He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was "a totally Virginia girl," as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington's home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit -- meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon -- eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

Mr. Salerno's case may be extreme, but it underscores the real but little-known dangers that many travelers from Europe and other first-world nations face when they arrive in the United States -- problems that can startle Americans as much as their foreign visitors.