La Mariposa en la Pared

The everyday experiences of latino immigrants through the eyes of an outsider. Las vidas típicas de unos inmigrantes latinos a través de los ojos de una forastera.

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Location: Upstate NY, United States

"To me it’s always interesting when you get accepted somewhere you don’t really belong. It’s interesting when people open up and let you in their world." - Gilles Mingasson

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"I no longer feel good about this country." - UPDATED

Today I sent a very angry email to Kyle, over at Immigration Orange. I was irate, sputtering curses through the tears that had run down onto my lips as I punched letters to form words that I hoped would arouse a similar rage in him.

It wasn't my intent to ruin anyone's day, just as my father didn't mean to turn me into a hopping-mad, stuttering, sobbing wreck, just by trying to make conversation about something he knew would interest me. It's just that I know people like Pedro Zapeta. And it makes me sick to see years of hard work and sacrifice taken away from him just because he didn't know about, and therefore failed to fill out, a form.

I watch them work long hours for little money, pay much of that money just to cover their meager living expenses here, and send the rest home via Western Union at $11.99 a pop. Pedro Zapeta, however, did not send money home. He saved it up to present it to his family all at once. I can only imagine what he was thinking as he headed to the airport to finally go home: how happy his mother would be to see him, what a hero he was going to be to his sisters once they saw the money that would give them the life they had dreamed of.

Pedro was on his way home, after 11 years of working as a dishwasher here in the U.S., to finally reunite with his family, buy some land, build a house, and live comfortably for a while on the $59,000 he had saved. The $59,000 that was in his duffel bag, which he was about to carry onto a plane that would fly him back to Guatemala. As he went through security, the money caught the attention of an agent, who called customs. But rather than say, "Sir, in order to transport that amount of money, you need to fill out a form," they seized his money. Then, later, after he made a fuss, federal prosecutors told him he could take $10,000 of HIS MONEY, and donations totaling $9,000 made by supporters, if he would shut up and leave already. He opted to hire lawyers and fight instead.

Now, after 2 years now of fighting to get his money returned to him, he has been given a deadline of this coming January, about 3 months from now, to leave this country. Without his money. To return to Guatemala where there are no jobs, and now, no hope for Pedro and his family. When asked what he would do if he didn't get his money back, he replied, "Me voy a matar" (quote from "Lay Off the Guest Worker We Want" by Dan Moffett, Palm Beach Post blog, Nov. 12,2006).

Here's the CNN article:

Read the UPDATE, here!


Blogger janible said...

I started to say thanks for writing this, but thanks doesn't seem like the right word. I'm feeling sick and I want to kick something, or maybe just tape this to the forehead of every person in congress. This is so wrong! So who is enjoying this poor guy's hard earned money right now? Or is it sitting somewhere like the billions of withholding taken from people who don't have a legitemate way to get their money back from our government, and then are accused of getting benefits without paying taxes?

9/30/2007 7:13 PM  

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