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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Osama Bin Laden .... Winning!

Osama Bin Laden was killed with the classic “double tap” to the chest and head. Translated, this means he was shot twice in short succession. Suddenly everyone on TV including the 100-pound spokesmodel pretending to be a reporter on Fox, is speaking SEAL lingo. Mainstream media is really pushing the hero thing. According to both my television and my computer, SEALS walk invisibly on water and spit the fire of God’s vengeance at these detestable Muslim self exploders under the strict direction of our Commander in Chief. As a result, Obama’s already high approval rating has, for now, climbed into the stratosphere for the successful “dispatching” of “Geronimo” and “E.K.I.A.” (Enemy Killed In Action). SEAL speak! See what I mean?

Note: This announcement came as a complete surprise to me since I had previously written an article wherein I stated that Bin Laden had been dead for nine years and that anyone who disagreed with me was a delusional war monger. I have since softened my position.

Crowds congregated at ground zero (translated, that means where the twin towers fell) and Times Square to cheer at another human being’s death (admittedly that of Osama Bin Laden’s) with a fervor usually reserved for the radical fundamentalists they despise.

Interestingly enough, most of the people the author saw gathered in celebration would have been anywhere from 5 to 8 years old when the tragic events of 911 unfolded. I wondered what loss or trauma these revelers had suffered especially given their age and inappropriate (in my mind) glee.

But then, who can blame them? Look at our Commander in Chief, who despite “not wanting to spike the football” (a very telling statement in and of itself) has been drilling the pigskin into the turf at every opportunity, using the killing as an “applause getter” at every public outing since the “event” occurred. It’s only logical that God would choose sides against his own creations and facilitate the death of the filthy Muslim ones…right?

This kind of thinking is brought you by the patriarchs who won’t show us the pictures of a dead Bin Laden. We can see film of regular folks who never knew who killed them or why, jumping out of the south tower every night on cable tv, but Bin Fucking Laden with a bullet in his head will freak us out? How’s that? Uday and Qusay looked good with bullets in their heads, why not Bin Laden? Congress got to see it! WTF? Btw, who’s paying for this? If I’m paying millions of dollars to get fucked I’d at least like to have pictures, hell I want a video and not the animated snuff film I saw on MSNBC. I digress…

My point is that this kind of morbid curiosity/high five-ing does not bring out the best in us. Agreed? Throw some middle-east garb on our revelers and who could tell the difference. I was raised to believe Americans are better than that. Clearly we’re not.

A Catholic parish recently came under criticism for adding Osama Bin Laden to its weekly prayer request list as printed in the parish news letter. Many parishioners were outraged and refused to pray for Bin Laden. The story made the mainstream news along with the opinions of average citizens as interviewed on the street. Most were openly hostile at the thought of praying for the soul of Osama Bin Laden whilst claiming to be Christians. Apparently they forgot about Jesus’ clear instructions to love and pray for one’s enemies, or maybe not. How one can claim to be Christian and have no forgiveness in his/her hearts for his/her enemy, even in death, is beyond me. Jesus certainly would not approve.

President Obama will surely be re-elected on the strength of having killed Osama Bin Laden. This says a lot about American voters and a lot about Barack Obama. The fact is Mr. Obama has done virtually nothing to fulfill his campaign promises and has blatantly carried on with the Bush doctrine/agenda. Mr. Obama has proven himself a corporate puppet who works for the banks and Wall Street…period. Examining his record of leniency on banks with regard to TARP money and his failure to enact appropriate regulations, combined with his inability to create jobs leaves little room to characterize Mr. Obama as a success.

Former Obama supporter and pre-eminent African American Princeton Professor Cornel West recently described the President as “…a black mascot of Wall Street Oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats” and also went on to say that the President “…lacks backbone”. The failed economy, high unemployment and massive home foreclosures give undeniable weight to Professor West’s words and reflect the general consensus of many liberals.

Most Obama detractors, unlike Professor West, don’t care what color Obama is, they just think he sucks. Where were Obama’s “comfortable shoes” when Wisconsin State workers needed the President to fulfill his campaign promise of marching beside them should the need arise? Obama has done almost nothing to help pass the failed DREAM Act and currently deports more people than any president in history. I know because I am currently fighting deportation, despite being a 50 year legal permanent resident and despite the fact that I am being prosecuted completely without legal cause. Many mainstream liberal pundits now openly describe Mr. Obama as “a colossal failure/disappointment in almost every regard”. Inexplicably, many progressives stand obediently by the President fearing “someone far worse from the right will become President”. Sadly, this is the thought process that currently defines the electoral process in America.

It’s time to quit high five-ing and congratulating ourselves on killing Osama Bin Laden and move on to an honest assessment of where we are at as a country and as a people. It is a stunning fact that we are in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Our infrastructure is falling apart. We’re deporting people that don’t deserve it, separating families in the process. Gays are openly persecuted with unconstitutional bills that sometimes become law before getting the kibosh from the Supreme Court. Medicare is under attack as well as any and all social programs including education. Something Barack “Mr. Education” Obama has done nothing meaningful to address. Nor will he. Instead, he will continue to spew his hollow promises of “change we can believe in” while consistently under-delivering or not delivering at all. Unfortunately the “smoke” created by Bin Laden’s killing will probably not clear in time to reveal Mr. Obama for the colossal failure he truly is, relegating the country to four more years of “change” that never materializes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Osama bin Laden Won.

And he continues to kick our asses posthumously. That’s right, he’s been dead for nine fucking years and we’re still on orange alert. After years of dialysis and a less than comfortable lifestyle, despite his wealth, in December 2001 Osama bin Laden died in the mountains of Tora Bora and was buried in an unmarked grave, according to Arabic-language news network Al Jazeera.

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Pakistan knew bin Laden took two dialysis machines into Afghanistan. “One was specifically for his own personal use.” “I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a … kidney patient,” Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with CNN.

Even Donald Rumsfeld admitted signs of Bin Laden after mid December 2001 “were probably not valid.” I recently watched a show on HISTORY channel dedicated to bin Laden wherein a retired CIA agent assigned to the bin Laden task force emphatically stated that there had been no verifiable sightings of the man since November of 2001. He further went on to say that in his thirty years in the intelligence community he had never seen anyone “drop off the face of the earth” and “did not believe it was possible given today’s covert monitoring technology” (spy satellites, drones, etc.). Are you getting the picture here? He’s dead and the American Intelligence community knows it. So why is the U.S. keeping Bin Laden “alive”?

Three words. Military industrial complex. Look folks, when you’ve got hundreds of billions of dollars worth of kill-toys, you gotta use em. Why? So you can build new, more expensive kill-toys. This is the reality of it; Lockheed and Boeing aren’t getting paid for jets that are already flying around in the air. Those jets and high tech weapons need to get worn out, obsolete and replaced with newer better kill-toys undoubtedly as a response to some kind of cutting edge Afghani/Muslim war technology that nobody is aware of. Are you kidding me? The only decent weapons they have were given to them by us to fight the USSR during the Cold War, and other than throwing black rocks at night… Afghanistan has no stealth technology.

As I said earlier we are still on orange alert, or is it yellow alert today? I don’t know and you probably don’t either. Why? Because it’s meaningless hype created by a country who’s main export is war. Of course it’s a yellow or orange or pink alert! Got to keep people scared so they won’t make any noises about cutting back on the military budgets, especially during times of financial crisis…like the current one. Now, when I visit my elderly mother with Alzheimer’s, I have to submit to letting an L.A. gang member in an Airport Security uniform (usually), stare at my and my girlfriend’s privates so we may be allowed to board the plane. Alternately, we can be felt up by said gang members. Man, do I feel safe now.

We are not at war with Afghanistan. We are at war with a concept, terror. How in God’s name can you possibly win a war against a concept? You can’t. And that’s the whole point. We never win, we never go off some color of alert, we never stop war-ing, we never interrupt the military industrial complex and we never feel safe. Largely because of a 10 foot tall Muslim fanatic with bad kidneys who’s been dead for 11 years. I, for one, am tired of having my ass kicked by a dead guy.

The world hasn’t changed; we have. As a nation we buy into the specter of terrorism and unquestioningly do what ever we are told. We’ve willingly surrendered hard fought rights that we may never recover (the Patriot act was renewed, in part, a couple of days before this writing) and tolerate any ridiculous inconveniences we are subjected to because of the very real fear of arrest. There have been so many studies showing that our current heightened/intolerable airport security does nothing to make us safer that space prohibits me from quoting them all. Now you need a passport to go to Mexico…WTF? We as a nation have become scared little bunnies willing to suffer any humiliation for fear that the big bad Osama might eat us.

Recently I’ve watched Egyptians fearlessly stand up against a tyrannical dicatator/president. I couldn’t help comparing the bravery of Egyptian protesters to the cowardly apathy that exists in this country. Clearly, Americans are too obsessed with their iPhones and Honda Accords to be concerned with their civil rights being eroded. Also, as a country we’re not too smart. Example; Wisconsin state workers go on strike because their governor is trying to bust the unions under the guise of balancing their state budget. With out doubt there are many among them that voted for the Republican/Tea party candidates that are now busting their union. What did they expect? Republicans traditionally hate unions, or anything at all that might benefit Johnny Punchclock & Sally Housecoat. You reap what you sow. Idiots!

Osama bin Laden won; now what do we do? Well for one, we can insist that Congress repeal the Patriot Act (is that Orwellian or what?). We could stop putting up with the ridiculous requirements forced upon us should we need to travel. We could in no uncertain terms let Washington know that we view the “Terror Alert Status” as a tool of fear and oppression. Americans must make it crystal clear that unless the Government can prove that there is an imminent threat to our sovereignty we will not go to war. We must not violate the Versailles Treaty any longer by means of aggressive war or torture if we wish to be taken seriously as a nation and not hated.

Finally, we have to admit some painful truths to ourselves. First, you can’t win a war against terror because it’s a concept. And second, Osama bin Laden is dead, and you cannot kill a guy who’s already dead, no matter how much you hate him.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2% Have 95% of the Wealth!

Redistribution of wealth. These are the three dirtiest words in the English language…to the 2% of Americans holding 95% of the country’s wealth. It’s of small wonder we hear politicians from both sides of the aisle condemning any attempt to even the economic scales. When the insurance companies and their corporate shills, the Republicans, claimed that national health care was a socialist plot designed to redistribute the wealth of this country, Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democrats fell apart like a toilet paper bathing suit. Good-bye single payer, good-bye public option. How could basic health care possibly be considered a redistribution of wealth in the eyes of anyone possessed of a rational mind? It makes you wonder who is representing the 95% of Americans who have next to nothing.

When your boss hands you your paycheck…that’s a mini redistribution of wealth. Guess what else? When you pay for your Japanese Toyota and buy Arab Gas, that’s a redistribution of wealth. If you hope to own a home, or a nicer home or get a better paying job, that’s a redistribution of wealth. Got it?

So do everyone a favor and don’t get all McCarthy-era stupid when you hear the term “redistribution of wealth” and start yelling “pinko commie take-over”. No need to grab the bible and load the gun. WE NEED A MAJOR REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN THIS COUNTRY! There I said it. And if you don’t agree, you are either one of the richest 2% or you’re a fucking moron.

People sit around and complain about the fat cat corporations, but fear a redistribution of wealth. How stupid is that? I have exhausted all patience for those who ignorantly buy into corporate sponsored rhetoric which ridicules/demonizes the concept of redistribution of wealth. Wake up. Corporations have more legal rights than American Citizens. That is not my opinion; it is a legal fact.

We now live in a country whose economy has “fully recovered” as far as banks, corporations, and the government are concerned. There’s one major omission from this assessment…jobs. The middle class is on the endangered species list and your government does not care. To hell with what they say! The real truth is reflected in their trade agreements and foreign policy. Most of which are designed to facilitate big corporations exploiting the cheapest labor globally available. Both Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty. Politicians all claim to “care about middle America”, but then sign bills into law and give tax incentives to corporations who exploit third world labor forces, leaving their former U.S. employees unemployed, all in the quest for higher short term profits.

As Americans we consume more now than we ever have. More goods, more services, more everything, and yet we have high unemployment and a rapidly shrinking middle class. How can this be? It’s because we only manufacture a fraction of what we used to. Instead of paying Americans to build American made products, we currently throw our money away on poor quality imported (mostly Chinese) goods that offer poor service to both the end user and the U.S. economy. But it makes big corporations rich. Talk about a redistribution of wealth! Our lust for cheap goods will likely be our undoing.

The first rule of the “Rich Guy Club” is…NO NEW MEMBERS! Be sure to keep this in mind when you hear assholes like John Boehner screaming about the redistribution of wealth being a bad thing. It is a bad thing…for the fabulously wealthy. The largest redistribution of wealth the world has ever seen is going on right now in the form of American dollars going to Arab oil nations. And yet, the politicians don’t say a word. That’s because they don’t give a damn about the redistribution of wealth, unless it’s to the masses (i.e. you and me). Corporations can shuffle wealth anywhere they wish with impunity. They own our politicians thanks to antiquated campaign financing laws that serve to undermine the governing process and leave all but the very rich unrepresented.

If this country continues to have such a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, we as a nation are doomed. Big business, with the government as its shill, would have us return to the days of feudalism. Corporations and government would lord over us and the masses would exist in a state of sub-poverty, a condition more and more people face everyday as a result of the current recession. Face it; big business doesn’t give a damn about you and neither does big government.

We have to start holding politicians accountable by not re-electing them. We need to build things. We have to quit buying crap at K-Mart and Walmart. We need to patronize small businesses instead of heading straight to the Mega Discount Store. We need to buy things made in America. We need to reject the way governments and big corporations currently do business, especially if it isn’t in the best interests of the American people and humans beings in general.

Finally, we need to embrace the notion of leveling the playing field and redistributing America’s wealth and prosperity back to Americans like you. When it’s all said and done, Americans will ultimately make America sustainable, not corporations and not politicians.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


"And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner."
- Candidate Barack Obama who apparently couldn't find those comfortable shoes and come to Wisconsin as promised in this 2007 quote. [Note from the author: This quote was added on February 24 almost one month after the original post was written.]

-Defining Barack –
Liberal, progressive, centrist, socialist?

If I had a million dollars I would bet (with a minimal fear of loss) that 99% of Americans have it wrong when it comes to who Barack Obama really is. This phenomenon exists largely as a result of mainstream media either characterizing him as a socialist or a saint. Take your pick. Foreign born commie or savior guided by divine providence. Sadly, this isn’t hyperbole, just turn on FOX and MSNBC. Listen to what the Tea Partiers/far right have to say about Mr. Obama and judge for yourself.

What’s worse is that even the more “intellectual” pundits who tout Obama as a liberal, a progressive or even a centrist, all have it wrong. So who is Barack Obama? ...and more importantly, does anybody care about the truth? I recently heard MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell say he “had never been disappointed in the President”. Apparently Mr. O’Donnell isn’t very discriminating. I am. Unlike most Americans my life depends upon who this man is and I don’t like what I’m seeing (more on that later).

I judge a person by their actions or as many times in the case of Mr. Obama, his lack of action. I’ve judged him on his failure to follow through on any of the “change” he promised. Having observed his presidency very closely and with great anticipation, I can honestly tell you that I could not be more disappointed…not only with President Obama, but with most of his supporters as well.

Why his supporters? Because every time Mr. Obama failed to follow through on his promises, every time he instantly caved to the opposition (immigration, bank bail-outs, single payer, public option, Guantanamo, DOJ etc.) the “left” failed to acknowledge or even recognize it. I feel betrayed by Obama and abandoned by people who call themselves “progressives” because doing otherwise would show a lack of support for the President. For the record, that’s called a popularity contest.

Supporting Obama because you hate Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin is just as crazy and just as obtuse as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (respectively). Maybe we shouldn’t spend all our time talking about people who are barely tethered to reality and spend more time paying attention to what your President is doing/not doing. Quit letting your fondness for Barack Obama cloud your judgment. Wake up and smell the betrayal.

If you’re a liberal and you’re “ok” with the way this administration has conducted itself, then you’ve failed and chances are you now call yourself a “progressive”. To me the moniker “progressive” is a synonym for lowered expectations. You know who you are. Be honest with yourself. Are you as hopeful today as you were when Mr. Obama was first elected? Are you “ok” with all the people Mr. Obama has turned his back on?

I laugh when people characterize Obama as being “left”. The “left” no longer exists. What passes for “left” today would have been considered “conservative” in the 60’s. Have you seen any earth shattering advancements with regard to civil rights lately? No, you haven’t, quite the opposite in fact; and you’re certainly not going to see them during the Obama administration. Patriot act, warrant-less monitoring of phone calls, emails etc. and all with the “Peoples” approval (according to the Oval Office). Mr. Obama refused to even consider investigating the previous administration despite giving reason to believe otherwise during his campaign. President Obama has done nothing meaningful to change the Bush Doctrine. How the hell do you look me in the eye and defend that Mr./Ms. Progressive? And why would you? Personalities preceding principles perhaps?

Unflinching loyalty to an unworthy leader never results in anything good, even if said leader is dynamic and inspiring. Don’t continue to be a sucker; I can’t afford it. President Obama’s 180 degree turn-around on immigration and his failure to clean up the DOJ may be my undoing, along with hundreds of thousands of others. (See my blog post “How I Became an Enemy of the State" )

Mr. Obama is a great orator as well as a dynamic, likable personality, but he’s no “man of the people” and lacks the most essential quality for being a successful leader, namely, uncompromising tenacity. In plain English, he doesn’t stand his ground…ever…ever.

He has “compromised” to the point that history (if it’s honest) will surely view his policies as inconsequential and the man himself as a corporate elitist, his race being remembered as the only noteworthy detail of his presidency. Yeah, it’s sad, but what’s sadder and infinitely more dangerous, is the left’s failure to recognize the truth, it’s unwillingness to speak about it, or even tolerate those who do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Demand to be Executed. An Open Letter to the DHS.

I, Mike Burrows, being of sound mind and body, wish to exercise my right as a legal permanent resident to die in this country. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is demanding my removal to a country which for all reasonable purposes is foreign to me. I will never be allowed to re-enter, and I will never see my children or my loved ones again. This is a clear violation of the Constitution‘s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause as my life would be unlivable away from my children, my loved ones and everything I’ve ever known or cared for.  As such, it could potentially create legal exposure and embarrassment for the DHS in the future.  

In order that the government not violate the constitution, and that I not suffer “cruel and unusual punishment”, in the alternative, I propose that the United States government execute me by lethal injection. If I may not be allowed to live in the only country I have ever known, I propose that it is far less cruel and much more humane to execute me. I will sign any waivers necessary to facilitate my execution.

I propose to the government that my execution is in the best interests of the government, in that my voluntary waiver of deportation in favor of execution will indemnify the government of any possible future liability and will insure my constitutional rights are not violated i.e. “cruel and unusual punishment”.

Mike Burrows

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Here We Go Again or WTF happened to justice?

My (seemingly) never-ending battle with the Federal government continues, round … I don’t even know. Too many. You already know the story. David v. Goliath, Pee Wee Herman v. Hulk Hogan. Guess which one I am?

Later this month I will lose my request for a rehearing en banc at the 9th Circuit. [As soon as I receive the 9th Circuit decision denying my motions, I'll be sure to post it below this article.] How do I know? I’m not psychic. I’ve just been here too many times before. I can never get the facts of my case read because DHS insists on keeping the substantive issues of my case out of the court’s view by claiming I missed a deadline that I didn’t actually miss (largely because I was never properly notified). Even so, I am filing a new motion with the Board of Immigration Appeals based on change of law (Ledezma-Galicia v. Holder, 9th Cir. March 29, 2010) which basically states that they cannot deport me for a pre-1988 conviction. But it’s a grind. Like always. And I’ve never written one before. Like always.

If any criminal immigration attorneys are listening and are familiar with this particular change-of-law motion and would like to help, shoot me a message or email because I’m in deep guano & way over my head (as usual). I could use a template or sample motion or any kind of qualified legal help I can get. Even a little help is greatly appreciated. Don’t be shy.

Despite my 9-year battle to stay in this country. Despite a protracted legal battle and stacks of motions and petitions (all written by me) filed over the course of the last nine years. Despite that it has taken every fiber of my existence and every dime I have to keep up with it, the government’s argument is…. that I lack due diligence.

WTF? They actually have the balls to say (on the record) that I have offered no explanation as to why I didn’t receive their letter. Like how am I supposed to know what happened to the letter between their office in Virginia and my house in California? What are they talking about? That was over five years ago. They even have an official term for it … now get this… “failure to receive.” Again, WTF? I swear to God. I’m not bullshitting you! Can you imagine?

And that, in a nutshell, is how they are keeping the substantive facts of my case from being brought into evidence. Got it? Plain and simple … These guys, the DHS and in particular, the Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) are using this strategy to have me permanently removed from the United States, with no chance ever of re-entry, and a twenty year prison sentence should I attempt to do so. And they are very happy to win with this “time tolling argument”, and keep the facts and the applicable laws out of it. Does that sound right to you? But it’s true. How fucked up is that? You can just answer silently in your head.

All I have ever asked is that the substantive facts of my case be heard and ruled on according to the law. To this date, that has never happened. The opposition will disagree, but I can prove it. I have the law on my side, but it means nothing if I can't enforce it. I need to get over this “time tolling” excuse that the government is currently using to subvert my efforts to have the facts of my case heard.

As I stare at the blank white pages, which will become my BIA motion to reopen, I can only look into that white abyss and recall the countless times I have sat at this chair staring at that same ugly, god-damned white abyss. I’m not a lawyer and this is hard. It’s especially hard when it’s your own ass you’re trying to keep out of detention and in this country. I've heard it said "you get as much justice as you can afford". I’ve come to find that’s a pretty good rule of thumb.

Let me be upfront, this Government thrashing has beaten the financial snot out of me. In other words, there’s no more green. But I’m going to keep fighting with or without (so far without) any qualified legal help. Sooo...if you’re a rich lawyer or even a semi-rich lawyer, think of me while you’re sipping Manhattans at the club, and maybe take pause to picture my pitiful ass slaving over a (probably) poorly written, ineffective yet taxingly laborious motion, only to have it fail. And ask yourself, if I gave that guy an hour of my time, would it have hurt me, would it have helped him? Cheers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

“I Could Go at Any Time.”

That’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s signature line in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and I know just how he feels. Because, quite literally, as Arnie Grape so succinctly stated it, “I could go at any time”. I just lost round two at the 9th Circuit; my bond has been forfeited (at ICE’s demand); both the ACLU and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild as well as the Center for Constitutional Rights and The Southern Poverty Law Center have turned me down for pro bono assistance of any kind, either because I’m not currently in Federal custody or because my case is complex and sets no precedents.

Note: for all the good the ACLU supposedly does, they don’t give a rat’s ass about helping an individual regardless of how dire his circumstances or how draconian the punishment that person faces (unless it’s the issue de jour and there’s already a lot of press attached to it). The ACLU won’t even return my phone calls after I fulfilled their request that I send them the facts of my case. I am colossally disappointed in the ACLU. Maybe if I can manage to get some national news coverage the ACLU will return my phone calls. Or alternatively, when I'm inevitably arrested by ICE maybe the National Lawyers Guild will represent me. Until then I'm twisting in the wind. Neither organization will be receiving a donation from me this year.

But I digress. Since “I could go at any time,” I thought it wise to converse with my elderly mother (now suffering with Alzheimer’s, God bless her) who in spite of her occasional memory lapses was sharp as a razor on one point. I have no living relatives in Canada! I quickly got my father on the line who just as quickly confirmed in no uncertain terms what my mother had told me, and like my mother, rattled off a lengthy list of dead relatives (followed by the two or three living cousins who all reside in the U.S.).

I think the math is pretty straight forward on this, don’t you? Here’s the equation. Me plus Canada minus everything I’ve ever known and loved = I’m fucked. I’m 51 years old so I don’t think I’m being melodramatic. Shall I forget my children, parents, girlfriend, friends, and familiar places – in short, everything that makes life worth living and start over in a foreign country where I know not a soul? Does that sound realistic?

Candidly, I am tired. This bullshit has sucked up nine years of my life. I have personally written more petitions, briefs and legal motions than a hundred people will ever see in their lifetimes. And for what? I haven’t done anything. Remember, they’re deporting me for a conviction that does not exist and I have yet to have the facts of my case reviewed on their merits. The reason for this is because the Office of Immigration Litigation attorneys representing the DHS, do not want my case tried on its merits because they know they’ll lose and they’ll lose badly. So instead, they fight me on time tolling so they can receive summary affirmances (or the like) insuring the facts of my case will never be read by the judges.

In short, I’ve lived here since 1962 and I’m going to be deported because, through no fault of my own, my paperwork was late??? OIL knows the only way they can win this case is if they keep the facts of the case unheard. The attitude seems to be… “Screw the truth; we want a check in the Win column!” I honestly believe that if more people knew what was really going on it would stop the kind of nonsensical, draconian punishments that are currently being handed out by the system.

Again, I digress. “I could go at any time.” Incidentally, if I try to come back at any time in the future, I’m looking at twenty years in a Federal penitentiary. I guess I won’t be attending my parents’ funerals or the birth of my grandchildren or my son’s graduation from college or anything of any significance for that matter. Occasionally I run into some clown who thoughtlessly remarks that I could be deported to worse places. I ask you, what worse a place is there than a place that separates you from all of your loved ones for the rest of your life? Sounds like hell to me; and I don’t deserve to go to hell.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nine Years

And counting. It was this month in 2001 that I first received notice to appear before an immigration judge. That's when my "removal" proceedings began. Happy Anniversary to me!

I'm still in Los Angeles, but I wait for the knock on the door in the middle of the night. ICE agents usually show up at 6 a.m., fully armed.

I moved here with my family from Canada, when I was two years old in 1962. I'm a legal permanent resident of 48 years. I am 51 now, with the most recent 9 years spent fighting for my right to stay in the only country I've ever known. The 9th Circuit just denied my due process claim against the Board of Immigration Appeals. How could I have filed my last petition within the 90 day time limit if the Board never served me my Final Removal Order?

How could I have ever imagined that a $50 eight-track tape deck would, thirty-one years later, place me on the wrong side of a DOJ tribunal and the agency charged with keeping us safe from terrorists? The conviction no longer exists. I managed to get a lower court to reopen and vacate a 30-year-old expunged misdemeanor (all the court documents were destroyed by fire years ago), but I can't get the U.S. Department of Justice to stop blocking my efforts to get this dang deportation order lifted.

Federal bureaucrats hate to lose. I guess that's why the Department of Homeland Security illegally yanked my bond in March of 2008. I'm one of those immigrants "at risk". I assure you, waiting for heavily armed Federal agents to wake me up at 6 a.m. to take me to a lock-up facility is a form of mental torture.

I found out shortly before removal proceedings began, that my maternal grandmother’s family was Jewish. A familiar story. Then I found out I was being kicked out of my homeland. Another familiar story.

As my son Max and I watched the New York Times documentary on Zebulon Simantov, the last Jew in Afghanistan, he asked me why Simantov won’t leave Afghanistan. Knowing the answer, I told him. "He doesn’t want to be forced out of the only country he’s ever known. With even one remaining Jew, the Taliban can’t claim victory."

Not that I can compare the Department of Homeland security and its puppet DOJ tribunal (The Board of Immigration Appeals) to the Taliban.
Or can I?

If you would like to help, you can do something. Click on the "follow" button to the right. I don't send out any email notifications. I just want to show the Feds that people are following my story. That small action can have a huge impact. If you'd like to donate to my defense, there's a donate button above. It's been 9 years; maybe you can spare $9.00? It's just a suggestion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Epitaph for Change or WTF Happened to Obama?

I can honestly say there have been few times in my life when I felt as hopeful as I did the day President Obama won the election on the platform of “change” and “hope”.

America could finally leave the Bush years behind along with the misguided policies that had divided the people, ruined the economy, and driven us into two wars, arguably neither of which is winnable. We could now undo the past, and move into the future with a learned scholar and man of the people at the helm. We could stop fighting/making real/imagined enemies. Things were going to be different now! This was going to be a new era of equality for minorities, immigrants, women and most of all, regular working people or as then candidate Barack Obama called them “The backbone of America”. Mr. Obama assured us it would be a long and tough road but if we kept hope alive, change would come.

It’s been two years now since Barack Obama took the oath as president. Lately I’ve noticed my fellow Democrats and I are having trouble looking each other in the eye when the subject of Barack Obama comes up. I’ve further observed that conversations about “change” and “hope” have all but dried up. Fewer and fewer of my fellows speak about “Obama” with any enthusiasm. In fact, I am hearing former starry-eyed supporters such as myself mutter under their breath with bewildered dissatisfaction. Some are down right pissed. I count myself among the latter.

It seems no one wants to be the first “Obamatron” to say what many of us are thinking, so allow me; OBAMA SUCKS! Ok, not as bad as Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh…but what happened to “change we could believe in”? Let’s be honest (finally), this guy is a colossal, megalithic, disappointment, period. It seems to me the only change in the oval office has been that the butt currently parked in the “big chair” is swaddled in a better grade of designer fabric than its predecessor. Doesn’t help me, or anyone I know for that matter. Oh yeah, and he’s got a better looking old lady than the last puppet leader. Again, that doesn’t help me or anyone I know.

Undoubtedly some of my Obamatron friends will angrily shout “What about the health care bill?” I can only shake my head in disbelief and wonder if they’ve read the bill. I have. It was written in large part by major insurance companies and it reflects it in spades. In short it does nothing, and I mean nothing to address the health care of this nation’s citizens and especially the poor, whom it victimizes with penalties aimed at people who cannot afford health insurance, so it’s business as usual except for one thing; It's always been an unwritten crime to be poor in this country, now we have punitive mandatory health insurance laws to make it official. Thanks President Change and Hope.

For those of you who are still unconvinced, a short list of President Obama's “accomplishments”:

1.Completely botched “health care bill”.
2.Record numbers of immigrants in detention.
3.Continued with, and enshrined virtually all Bush administration policies. (Pretty dishonest for a guy who campaigned on change).
4.Record number of marijuana arrests and supports criminal penalties for possession. Odd, since these kinds of laws frequently target minorities such as African Americans, a fact Obama is well aware of.
5.Never closed Guantanamo Bay as promised.
6.Didn’t end the war in Iraq for two years after promising it would be one of his first acts as President.
7.Reneged on his promise to end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
8.Never made good on promised home foreclosure relief. Many American families lose their homes as a result.
9.Contrary to his assertions as a candidate, he’s been completely ineffective as a bipartisan leader.
10.He didn’t even try to rally his own party to support the public option or single payer health care that he spoke so much about on the campaign trail, as well as conveniently forgetting a multitude of campaign promises (space constraints prohibit listing all of them).

I assure you; no one could be sadder or have more egg on their face than I. I cringe in horror when I hearken back to my misguided enthusiasm for Mr. Obama. Frankly, he’s no Jack Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy or Ted Kennedy or (I reckon) their personal assistants.

Let’s face it, we fucked up. This guy is not up to the task, and he’s more than proven it. And yeah, this means the Democrats are doomed for the next two elections (at least), but what are we going to do? Should we continue to support a totally ineffective yet smooth talking, made-for-TV President who is clearly no leader? No, we cannot. Democrats are going to have to take their lumps, and the relegation to the non-ruling party that accompany these kinds of boners. There’s no way around it. You can spray all the cologne on this you want and it still smells like failure, but remember, this is an epitaph for change not hope.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Immigration System Isn’t Broken; The Machine Operates as Designed

My Permanent Resident Visa says “Permanent” on it, yet I’m being deported. When friends ask why the Federal government is pursuing me so relentlessly I assure them that I’m not being singled out; this is how the process works.

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My dad worked for a division of Capitol Records and received a transfer to Los Angeles, got permanent resident visas for the whole family and when I was two years eleven months old, we moved to the States. I grew up in Glendale, California, where I said the pledge of allegiance, played baseball, and lived like any American. Except for a first grade teacher who told me I could never be President, I thought I was just like everybody else. In high school, I played guitar in a band, played first base for the jv then varsity baseball team. All in all, I was living an American life.

Shortly after high school, I was convicted of misdemeanor receipt of stolen goods (the alleged stolen property was a $50 8track tape deck, like the one your dad had in his Oldsmobile). I wasn't guilty of the offense, but in a misguided act of adolescent loyalty to a friend of dubious morality, I plead not guilty and went to trial, relying on the worst public defender ever. I was 18 years old, on my own, and without any support system.

I had no prior run-ins with the law, but the judge resented me for not ratting on my friend. He fined me $500 dollars (a lot of money in 1978) gave me three years of formal probation and a 365 day suspended sentence. I stayed out of trouble, served no jail time and had the case expunged from the record 5 years later in 1983.

And now, today, because of the 365 day suspended sentence from a 1978 misdemeanor that was expunged in 1983, reopened and vacated in 2005 on the advice of my immigration judge, I am being deported. 1996 Immigration laws (IIRIRA) have been used retroactively against me, and the expunged 365 day suspended sentence from 1978 made me an aggravated felon for purpose of removal. In other words, I'm not an aggravated felon except for the government wanting to rip me apart from my family and everything that makes life worth living.
Being in removal proceedings separates you from your life, your loved ones and any shred of tranquility or peace of mind that you may have once had a shot at. I live in constant fear. I’m fifty. My forties were wasted on this still unresolved nightmare. I fall farther and farther into the pit every day, both financially and spiritually.

I spent a miserable month at the Lancaster Detention Facility. I was lucky. I got out (for now). Many of the people there had been detained for years with no bail, no court date, no charges, and no idea of when they were going to get out, if ever. Few can appreciate what this kind of uncertainty does to people and how it traumatizes them. It makes them hopeless and desperate.

In the past nine years I’ve written thousands of pages of motions and petitions; I’ve held off 4 Attorneys General and countless government lawyers. It’s not life or death to them as it is to me. They go home and think of other things, secure in the knowledge that the awesome force that is the Federal Government will not be used against them.

The immigration system isn’t broken; The Machine operates as designed. Once you get on the deportation merry-go-round, you will only get off if a Circuit court orders it so (and then pray it holds up when the Government appeals any immigrant’s favorable ruling). This will be a daunting all-consuming endeavor which anyone is likely to lose. You will certainly be ruined in the process if you survive it. I often question whether I will.

Mike Burrows
You can follow me on Twitter: Mike_Burrows

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Have you forgotten your promises to the people?
Our votes were based on the direction you promised to lead us in.
Please remember being president is not becoming or staying president.
Everyone is counting on you.

Best Regards,
Mike Burrows

Friday, February 19, 2010

How I Came to be an Enemy of the State

Forward by Lea Reiter

Not only have I known Mike for seven years, but I’ve known him well for those years. We met at the Tribune Company where we both worked selling advertising, and I broke my own code by dating a co-worker. I couldn’t resist the charm of a man who can break into song at any given moment, or consistently make me laugh. (He had me at “L is for the way you look at me..”)

It was 2002 when he first told me his bizarre deportation story. Surely I thought this whole matter would get settled in time. You know … truth, justice, and the American way. Never did it occur to me that his battle was against all odds or that the Justice Department makes no allowances for logic.

I was not prepared for the battle against the Federal government, nor was I prepared for the toll it would take on Mike, a man who hasn’t slept through the night in all the years I’ve known him. We watched the New York Times documentary together, about Kabul resident Zablon Simantov, the last Jew in Afghanistan. Despite the isolation, he remains in Afghanistan; with one Jew left, the Taliban can’t claim victory. Mike knows how Simantov feels.

Mike is on his fourth Attorney General. He’s filed thousands of pages of motions, petitions, briefs and rebuttals. And now he’s ready to share his story.

How I Came to be an Enemy of the State
... Mike Burrows

“The Poster Boy for Immigration Persecution”...that's me. Why? You may ask...Why would the federal government single me out for some sort of malicious persecution/prosecution? The first thing you must understand is that they're not singling me out; this is how the process works.

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My dad worked for a division of Capitol Records. He received a transfer to Los Angeles, got permanent resident visas for the whole family and when I was two years eleven months old, we moved to the States. I grew up in Glendale, California, where I said the pledge of allegiance, played baseball, and lived like any American. Except for a first grade teacher who told me I could never be President, I thought I was just like everybody else. In high school, I played guitar in a band, played first base for the jv then varsity baseball team. All in all, I was living an American life.

Shortly after high school, I was convicted of misdemeanor receipt of stolen goods (the alleged stolen property was a $50 8track tape deck, like the one your dad had in his Oldsmobile). I really wasn't guilty of the offense, but in a misguided act of adolescent loyalty to a friend of dubious morality, I plead not guilty, went to trial (with the worst public defender ever) and somehow was convicted of misdemeanor receipt of stolen property (the $50 8 track tape deck). I was 18 years old, on my own, and without any support system (that's another story).

The judge didn't like the fact that I wouldn't give my friend up so he let me have it as hard as he could, considering I had never had any other offenses or dealings with the law. He fined me $500 dollars (a lot of money in 1978) gave me 3 years of formal probation and a 365 day sentence in the Los Angeles County Jail. The sentence was suspended, unless I should get into anymore trouble during my three year probationary period. I did not; and had the case expunged from the record some 5 years later in 1983.

Fast forward to Oct 11th, 2001 (1 month to the day from 9/11). I'm 5 years into my second marriage. My first one ended amicably and we share a healthy happy 19 year old college student son. However, my second marriage is also about to end (to my surprise at the time), and it's not going to end amicably. Toward the end, my second wife began doing some very strange things. A devout Catholic all of her life, she and I agreed to send my two stepdaughters as well as the daughter we had together to the same parochial school that my wife and her mother had attended.

One day I returned home from work and was greeted by my son and my two stepdaughters. My oldest stepdaughter (12 at the time and the boldest of the lot) asked me in an almost breathless voice " Satan in us?” The rest of my children stared intently at me waiting for an answer. Unprepared for a question like the one before me, and a little more than shocked, I stammered out something to the effect of "Well....God no...Of course not...why would you ask that?” The answer floored me. I can still feel it now, the same way you remember being struck with an object larger than yourself …something like a refrigerator or a car. I can still feel the horror. "Mommy put her hands on all our heads and told Satan to get out of our bodies".

The others looked at each other for assurance and nodded in agreement. Later on, my wife would admit to doing this numerous times behind my back as well as breaking a family heirloom she claimed was filled with "demon spirits which were yellow and flew out of the statue of The Virgin Mary as she smashed it with a hammer".

All this was at the urging of the new fundamentalist Christians she had befriended, and for whom she was now neglecting my children and me. She was now a 5 to 7 night-a- week attendee at a small church where people routinely spoke in tongues and performed other minor "miracles". I objected. Her response was to "rebuke me in the name of Jesus". Shortly thereafter I was served a restraining order with my name on it ordering me to have no contact with my wife, my children and her family, and to stay away from my 5 bedroom house.

Of course she drained the bank accounts and sold all my best possessions. When I called her mother's house the afternoon before we were to go to Family Court, I left her a gentle message asking her to please meet me at our son's soccer practice, so we might talk before going to court. Her response was to have me arrested for breaching the restraining order by leaving the message on her mom's phone. I was arrested in front of my son and all his friends at his soccer practice as she knew I would be.

Oh, did I mention her stepbrother who was now living with my 3 little girls and young son was a convicted child molester? It caught me by surprise as well. Luckily, while I was in county jail serving out a sentence for the aforementioned breach of a court order, his molesting career (which I was to later find out was still active) was cut short when he was caught dealing methamphetamine to an undercover cop. As it was his “third strike”, he now resides permanently in the care of the California Department of Corrections. Apparently, someone had gotten wind of his "small business" and turned him in. I was of course heartbroken…

Unfortunately for me, my arrest put me on the former INS radar and I was ordered to appear and ultimately found removable. However, it wasn’t the embarrassing and hurtful fracas my second marriage had dissolved into that made me removable in the eyes of the Immigration courts; it was the 365 day suspended sentence from my 1978 conviction. The one I had expunged in 1983.

The new IIRIRA laws, that went in to effect in 1996 were now being used retroactively against me (18 years after my misdemeanor conviction), and because my misdemeanor conviction included a 365 day suspended sentence I would now be seen as an aggravated felon in the eyes of the Immigration courts as well as the BIA et al., and sentenced as such. This is on top of the fact that I’m being tried on the same charge twice. The DHS gets around the double jeopardy laws by trying cases like mine as “Civil Cases”. Civil cases with Draconian penalties, like being taken away from everything you’ve ever known or loved since you were three years old, including my children, my elderly parents, my brother, stepsister, nieces and nephews, as well as my girlfriend of 7 years. I know no one in Canada and have no conscious memories of Canada.

I never got my American citizenship because frankly, I never felt like anything but an American, and the Permanent Residence Visa does say “Permanent” on it. Silly me.

The Immigration judge’s hands were tied. He was bound by his Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Actually, the judge himself was a really great guy. I must say, I thought he was very thoughtful, wise, patient and compassionate. In short, I liked him a great deal. During the course of my removal hearings he repeatedly told me that If it were in his power he would grant me relief, and that I should go to the original court I had the 1978 conviction in and try to persuade the judge to take 1 day off my sentence so he could grant me relief .

What he hadn’t mentioned is that it’s nearly impossible to open a case that was expunged 25 years ago, and then get a District Attorney and a judge to grant you a Writ of Error Coram Nobis (righting a wrong, in this case I was waaaay over-sentenced in my 1978 conviction ). It would literally take a miracle, if in fact you could ever get it done.

It took me a couple of years and some great people on both sides of the Superior Court, but I got the conviction vacated and plead to a lesser non-deportable misdemeanor. However, getting the Board of Immigration Appeals to acknowledge the lower court ruling would be the real battle. I thought I'd won the war. But I'd just won the first of many battles to come.


PART 2: A Sacrificial Goat ...

It may not be lost on you, the reader, that I kind of breezed over my stays in various jails and detention centers. It ended with a miserable stay (as they all are) at the Mira Loma Federal Immigration Detention Center in Lancaster, CA.

Where to start? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was in the “wrapping it up” phase of my second marriage. As stated, there was a conflict concerning religious beliefs (I’m Judeo-Christian-Agnostic and she’s Crazy).

My lawyer… ahem (divorce lawyer that is, I’ve had one divorce lawyer, one criminal lawyer, a public defender/dump truck, and myself acting as a pro se in immigration court and the 9th Circuit). As I was saying, my lawyer and I were in for a bigger shock when we asked for a copy of the restraining order filed by my wife to which the clerk responded, “Which one?” Apparently she had some experience filling out the forms needed to obtain a protection order.

My lawyer later provided me with a copy of the restraining order filed against me, and a copy of the exact same order she filed in the exact same court against her first husband. The complaint filed against me (the reason for requesting the order) was eerily similar (read that virtually identical) to the complaint she had written 6 years earlier against her first husband.

Worse yet, there was (according to my attorney) a third protection order that was several years old and permanently sealed, which made it impossible for us to view. I can only imagine what must have happened to that poor bastard (more on that later). Honestly, I’d done nothing … but things weren’t looking good for me.

Then I did something really stupid.
I broke down and called her mom’s house the night before we were to go to court. No one answered, and against my better judgment, I left a brief message (well aware of my precarious position) and very gently requested that she please come and speak with me at my son’s soccer practice. Hindsight being 20/20, I’d have to say that was a mistake.

I was arrested for violation of a court order (leaving the message) about 15 minutes after arriving with my young son at the park. The cop was holding a picture of me and my son that used to reside on my mother-in-law’s mantle.

Yeah, I know, it was stupid. What can I say… it was my first (and to this day, only) restraining order. It had been forty something days since I’d seen my wife or kids and I was a little fuzzy on the etiquette/law. I certainly don’t think I’d violated the spirit of the order by leaving a benign message on her mother’s answering machine. I plead guilty to violation of a court order rather than spend a year (according to my public defender/dump truck) in jail fighting it. Lesson learned.

Did I mention that my second wife was able to manipulate/stall/defy the Family court system? Because of my impending Removal Order, I have been unable to secure my court ordered right of visitation of my daughter for 8 years, despite having spent a year and a half in the Ventura, CA. Family court system. This was the same court that issued the restraining order that put me in jail. Unfortunately for me, the only family court order that the Ventura Sheriff’s department/Family court will enforce is a protection order. Just like the one I got arrested on.

As of this moment my second wife has been in willful violation of at least eight court orders, (ordered seven or eight years ago) including a psych evaluation that my attorney and I requested and the court granted.

She was in a precarious position; if she’d shown up for the court ordered psych evaluation, she would have to be either sane, or insane. It was a loser for her either way. If deemed sane then she would have to explain to the Federal government years of disability payments based on her mental illness. If deemed insane, then she held little hope of winning a custody battle. However, this was after she had me jailed, and the court apparently viewed me as someone with impulse control problems. In my absence (remember, I was in jail) the court granted my ex wife a three year restraining order against me, not to include my daughter, Holly.

It really didn’t come as a huge surprise. In fact, at this point (about 45 days after receiving the restraining order) I had come to accept that I was not dealing with a “normal” person. I was to find out later that she (my second wife) had a “borderline personality” and (unbeknownst to me) had been collecting mental disability the entire time we were married. She’d been receiving the checks from the Federal government at her mother’s house. Gee … big surprise, her “mommy,” or the “Dark Overlord” as I referred to her is “in on it” too.

In order to see my daughter I would, in effect, have to violate the restraining order that I had previously been arrested on. I never again violated the order. It’s been eight years. My daughter was 3 the last time I saw her … she’s 11 now. I think of her everyday.

Part 3: The Pokey ...

Oh right…I drifted off my stay in jails/detention centers. I thought you should know something about how I got there in order to better appreciate my stay with various branches of the government.

Once arrested, I was held in Ventura County Jail until I pled guilty to the aforementioned “violation of a court order”. I got 45 days plus 3 years formal probation and I forget how much they fined me. I was court ordered to attend anger management 3 hours a week for 52 weeks with a room full of violent wife beating psychos. At the direction of our “counselor” I related my story to the “class”. At the break one of my “classmates” questioned me with regard to my claim about not having “beat on my wife”. I assured him that I had never even been accused of having beat my wife and that my statement in class was indeed true. He looked at me as though I were the stupidest human on the face of the earth and said, “ Dumbshit... You shoulda beaten the shit out of her...You'da got the same thang”. This was my first of 52 classes. Once a week, 3 hours per class, for 52 weeks.

But to even get to this point I had get out of jail and out of Federal detention. After serving out my time in Ventura County I was shipped to Los Angeles County where I would languish in one of the worst jails in the country for a month or so. Presumably I was going to be released (or so I thought) after going to San Fernando Court on an old traffic bench warrant (that was later dismissed) . It had been 2 months in jail, my life was (and would remain) in shambles. And then suddenly in that dark dungeon they call L.A. County Jail, a beam of light, they call my name and jailhouse number, I’m to be released. What I didn’t know was that I was going to be released into the custody of ICE and transported to their Detention Center at Lancaster. I was given a pink piece of paper that said my bail was $10,000.00. Even a bond would be expensive. My father put up the cash. Later on ICE would strong- arm the bonding company out of the money leaving me where I am now, with no bail, appealing my romovability in the 9th Circuit and wondering when the shoe is going to drop.

This is how I live my every day, wondering when ICE is going to kick the door in and drop me off at the nearest detention center (again). I’ve imagined it happening so many times in my mind; I couldn’t begin to count how many. I suppose I’m trying to desensitize myself for when the real thing happens. But the dread is worse than the actual tragedy I fear. And there is no escaping yourself.

Federal Detention Centers Suck. There. I said it. There is just nothing to get happy about at one of these places. The reason I mention this is because I spent a month or so in the one at Lancaster, CA. To say it was not a pleasant experience is like saying the Empire State Building is a “big house”. The “processing in” takes days, to weeks, to months, to years, to …? Rest assured valued reader, you will not enjoy it should you ever have the misfortune to experience it (or any other form of Federal detention). Being out on bail is not much different than being in detention except that you can (supposedly) better defend your case and you get to actually watch life pass you buy and see your dreams fade first hand vs. thinking about your life crumbling from a cell. Either way.

I was lucky. I got out (for now). Many of the people I met had been in detention for years with no bail, no court date, no charges, and no idea of when they were going to get out, if ever. It makes for a pretty moody atmosphere as you might well imagine. I don’t think most people can appreciate what this kind of uncertainty does to people. It makes them hopeless, desperate, volatile and most of all, angry. I don’t blame the government for not wanting to let the hostages at Guantanamo go. If they weren’t anti-American terrorist killers when they got there, they will be by the time they leave. Count on it.

Once I got out of Federal detention I knew how the people that survived Hiroshima must have felt. Everything I had ever known or loved was gone. My oldest son (from my previous marriage) was living with my father whom I had made arrangements with prior to being arrested in case of just what happened (Thank you Dad). Business, gone. House, gone. Wife and children, for all practical purposes, also gone. Dignity? Self-esteem? Reputation? Do I even need to say?

Part 4: The Aftermath ...

I’ve lived the better part of 9 years as described in the preceding paragraphs. I did manage to serve out my probation with no violations, as well as gut out the 52 anger management classes. The judge awarded my second wife a 36 month restraining order (as previously mentioned) and she “waited me out” in court using stall tactics. I waited out the restraining order without violating it and have yet to speak to her as of this writing some 9 years later. You only have to hit me in the head with a hammer once.

My divorce lawyer and all around great guy died unexpectedly, although not altogether unexpected to those of us that knew him best, about a year and a half into my Family Court action. Marty had been working at a fraction of what he was normally paid, and stayed on my case until his passing. Marty himself had gone through a bad divorce and resulting custody battle that he won, but never really recovered from, and though he never said it, I always believed that’s why he stood by me, regardless of what my finances were. His life insurance company questioned whether Marty’s death was a suicide, quietly.. so did his friends. I’m ashamed to say that when he died my first thoughts were selfish, thinking what a bad omen it seemed like for me. I live with myself, and that moment, by telling myself that my survival instinct took over. He was a good guy; and I and many others miss him.

Sometimes I envy Marty. It’s ironic since, as a lawyer, Marty would be better equipped to fight this case if he were me. I certainly wouldn’t wish that on my dear departed friend. In fact, if I could change places with him, I question whether or not he might curse my grave for putting him in this position.

My son was 11 when this whole drama started to unfold, and I used to pray that I would be able to at least stall the process (if not overcome it) until he entered college. Having done that, (my son is 19 and attending college) I now find myself in the unenviable position of trying to find life events about which to pray for not being deported until.(?) I’m not sure how to even say it, it’s so complex, much less how to ask God for it. It’s certainly not anything they ask you about on any government form I’ve seen. It’s gotten so I look forward to weekends, not because I’m off two days from work (any career I might have had has been destroyed), but because I’m pretty sure ICE doesn’t work on weekends.
Note: my girlfriend just informed me that they do work on weekends. So much for that. My fear is now constant.

When I hear these stories (the few that you do hear) or I read them in the paper, or on the web, I’m often struck by the fact that these people usually have a big support system, i.e. families, churches, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, etc or somebody backing their play. What you don’t hear about are people like me who don’t have any support system, except themselves and nothing will end a career like a life and death battle with the Department of Homeland Security. People like me who never even considered themselves immigrants are in a particularly vulnerable position in that we don’t see it coming and we have no clue what we’re in for.

In short, persons who as LPR’s thought they were protected by the Constitution in the same manner all Americans are protected by the Constitution, are not. The world is full of false assumptions about how “legal” and “illegal” immigrants are treated and what rights they have. To confuse matters further, all the rules have changed (in particular new laws retroactively applied see IIRIRA). And all the old assumptions that were correct, are no longer correct due to the aforementioned changes of law that are being retroactively applied. Confusing, huh? Don’t feel stupid if you have to re-read this a few times.

It would take a very large book to tell this whole story and then I’m still not sure anyone could really understand the horror and the uncertainty unless they lived it. But that’s the crux of what it does to you. It separates you from your life, you loved ones and any shred of tranquility or peace of mind that you may have once had a shot at. I live in constant fear. My finances are so bad I’d rather spare myself and the reader from having to suffer through an accounting. I’m 50 as of a few months ago. My 40’s were wasted on this still unresolved nightmare. I fall farther and farther in to the pit everyday, both financially and spiritually. With a few exceptions the people that were and should be close to me tend to avoid me, including my 19 year old son. My few remaining friends (including his mother, my first wife) tell me it’s just how they are at his age. I am left to wonder.

As I mentioned earlier, I have fought my federal case almost entirely on my own. My only resources are whatever I can scrounge up and the internet. I’ve held them off for 9 years, 4 attorney generals, 10 or so OIL Prosecutors and countless IJ /ICE proceedings. I’ve written more motion/briefs/appeals than I can count. I have spent the better part of 9 years dedicating my life to this. I’m getting really tired of matching wits with federal prosecutors. They have unlimited resources and it’s not life or death to them as it is to me. They go home and (I’m sure) think of other things, secure in the knowledge that the awesome force that is the American Federal Government will not be used against them. In a compartmentalized branch of the government like immigration, most do not understand the tyranny they support: the BIA and OIL does understand and are continually ratcheting it up in a bid for yet more power over immigrants.

As of this writing I just received legal notice the Fed’s (OIL) have removed one of the 4 attorneys assigned to my case (real fair, huh?), I sit in breathless anticipation of who will replace her. I’ll wager it’s a heartless bureaucrat with no common sense or respect for the letter or spirit of the law. Lucky guess, I suppose.

What I've learned about myself, life and about how the dark side of this government operates in broad daylight would take volumes.
I will tell you the scariest part:
The Machine operates as designed. Got it? The Machine operates as designed. Remember what I said in the first paragraph..."The first thing you must understand is that they're not singling me out; this is how the process works". Once you get on the immigration merry-go-round, you are in the machine and you will only leave the machine if a higher court orders it so (and then pray it holds up when the Government surely appeals any immigrant’s favorable ruling). This will be a daunting all-consuming endeavor which you (as I am) are likely to lose. Certainly you will be ruined in the process if you survive it. I often question whether I will.