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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.


  1. My thoughts are with you. I am Canadian, married to an American but we reside in Canada. We were fulltime RVers for 5 years spending 6 months in Canada and 6 months in the US. Back in 1992 I applied for and obtained my green card although it was never used. It expired after two years and not knowing I had to return it, I just kept it. It was kind of neat seeing "Alien" on the card. Consequently in 2007 the US Government finally found out and deported me since I hadn't returned the card. So when we tried to cross the border to go south for the winter, we were turned back. That ended our fulltime RVing days.

    Since then we've had an immigration lawyer working on the case but nothing's happened. Since it's not quite a year, I guess that's not long compared to you.

    My husband had 8 grandchildren in the US including twins just born two weeks ago. He could drive down by himself but he doesn't want to go without me. It's been 1 1/2 yrs since we've seen his kids and the other grandchildren. They're all 10 and under.

    Sometimes things just really suck!

  2. I don't understand. How is this not in violation of Article 1 section 9 of the constitution?

    Article 1 Section 9
    No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

  3. Hi Mike, I am a believer in Jesus Christ of the new testament. Reading the Gospels can possibly help you in this time of your life. I am an immigrant myself in the country I now live in. I have no family, friends, home, nothing, in my former country. Every year the immigration service in the country I now live in have given me one year extensions on my visa, even though I've been here for over 5 years. When i have been at my last rope I have turned to prayer, and that has gotten me through. I will pray for you and your situation, that you are able to stay in california and not go back to a country that is not only foreign, but is also not your home. I wish you all the best.

  4. Why haven't you vacated the conviction pursuant to Padilla v Kentucky and the seek a joint motion to reopen your case. Are you still married? if so re-adjust.

  5. I'm aware of Padilla and I'm on deadline to file a petition for rehearing en banc. I have already vacated the conviction and now have to go back to lower court even though I vacated it. The tricky thing, Michael is that I don't know how to go about seeking a joint motion without an attorney. I really don't feel okay about approaching the opposition directly since they can't wait to get their hands on me and put me in prison. Suggestions? Please?

  6. The Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) being applied retroactively is illegal/unconstitutional.

    US Constitution Article I, Section 9, clause 3; No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

    While the law may be applied to convictions AFTER 1996, it is blatantly unconstitutional to apply it to any action or activity prior to its passage.

  7. Mr. Burrows,

    An article I just read on Alternet indicates that your "grandfather was a South Dakota state senator who owned a cattle ranch."

    If your parent who was the child of that grandfather never formally took Canadian citizenship, then that parent is an American citizen - and if that's the case, so are you (you could even become President!) If you haven't checked on this, it might prove a very shortened method to resolving things: if you're the child by birth of an American citizen, ICE has no jurisdiction over you.

  8. I've posted your cause to my fb page and I hope that and our prayers will help you in some way. I'm absolutely disgusted by the blatant lack of compassion and fairness of your case. Do you know the name and address of the Governor we as a family can write in hopes of helping you further?

  9. Sell all your stuff and move to Costa Rica or Panama, put up some kind of business and live your life. Then get your retirement benefits as soon as possible.

    And tell the goverment bureocracy to shove it.

    What ever you make now, will let you live like a prince in Central America.