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