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the face of illegal immigration

it looks very much like the face of the legal citizenry,
though perhaps sometimes more hopeful
sometimes more frightened.
i remember my grandmother was always deathly afraid
of any document requiring a signature,
school report cards, etc,
because she didn't want to get picked up immigration.

still if she had ever been detected by immigration, she wouldn't have faced anything as severe as the girl faces, should she be deported (found this in today's new york times):

Young Woman Fears Deportation, and Mutilation

"Adama Bah’s schoolmates were jubilant when she returned to 10th grade at Heritage High School in Manhattan in May 2005 after six weeks in a distant juvenile detention center. Her release put to rest the federal government’s unexplained assertion that Adama, a popular 16-year-old who wore jeans under her Islamic garb, was a potential suicide bomber.

"But a year and a half later, with many of her friends planning proms and applying to college, Ms. Bah, now 18, was still wearing an electronic ankle bracelet and tethered to a 10 p.m. government curfew, restrictions that were conditions of her release. And she was still facing deportation to Guinea, where she has not lived since she was 2.

"Today, at a closed hearing in Manhattan’s federal building, she will plead for political asylum from Guinea’s entrenched practice of female genital mutilation, which has marked all the women in her extended family, including her mother. An immigration judge could decide her fate on the spot.

“I’m worried about being sent back,” Ms. Bah said on Tuesday in her first extended interview about the lasting consequences of a case that briefly became a cause célèbre in the debate over government vigilance and the protection of individual liberties. “I’m worried about being separated from my family. This is all I have left now — what hasn’t been taken.”

"Officially, she and a 16-year-old Bangladeshi girl arrested in Queens the same day were detained solely because their childhood visas were no longer valid. That remains the only reason Ms. Bah is in deportation proceedings, and the sole legal basis for an order last year that released the other girl, Tashnuba Hayder, on the condition that she leave the country immediately."

"Even now, Ms. Bah says she has no idea whether her slight acquaintance with Ms. Hayder was what caused agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to hold her for questioning. Though a document provided by a federal agent at the time said the F.B.I. considered the girls “an imminent threat” to national security, it provided no evidence, and officials refused to discuss the matter.

“Why me?” she asked, before her volunteer lawyers warned that a judicial order limits what she can say about the experience. “Nobody answers, why me?”

She has had little time to dwell on the question, however, because she has been struggling to replace her father as the family’s primary breadwinner. Her father, a cabdriver who was arrested along with her and held on immigration violations, stayed in detention until his deportation last month. Her mother, illiterate and speaking little English, soon lost the family business, a trinket stand."

more here.

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About me

  • I'm call me aja
  • From nyc
  • 20something, black, woman, reader, writer, about to be a student again. i think i'd like to be heard (or read). child/grandchild of immigrant folk. yearning to travel. desirous of wisdom. a little bit ordinary, but working at being less so.
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