This a story for all those who have compassion. This is a story for all of you who ever train hopped, or have ever got arrested. This is a true story for those who don’t follow the system’s laws, to those who are human, for you. Here is the story:
Pavel (not his real name) is a powerful guy. He’s been doing Food Not Bombs in different states, goes dumpster diving, socializes really well with all kind of people, knows a lot about politics and knows how to survive in this nowadays society.
Pavel has traveled a lot and he likes being in the U.S.A . . . I guess so.
But there was something happening with Pavel — whether he was politically active or just trying to make it, he was not an US citizen.
His visa had expired a while ago, before the summer time. Therefore, to be able to keep staying in the USA, where he wanted to be because he wanted to, he and his punk friend got married.
As for those who don’t know what the whole process of becoming a US resident or citizen takes, I here give you information. The “ alien’ has to apply for an Adjustment of Status and the couple has to submit their last three years of tax returns, copies of birth certificates, passports, finger prints, pictures, doctor’s appointments, almost more than $1000, patience and comedy. Well, Pavel and his punk friend got married before the summer time.
Pavel went on an adventure, and like those of us who don’t want to pay corporations, who don’t like capitalism or want to support anything regarding the system, his way of traveling cross-country was train hopping.
But it wasn’t so easy. Pavel got pulled off by the border patrol guys and got charged with misdemeanors for trespassing. He and his friends were held in the county border jail for two days. But Pavel wasn’t from this country, so they released his friends, but not him. For him, the situation got worse.
When he got arrested he did not have a passport, but because he was arrested by the border patrol people, they called the INS — that is supposed to be illegal — but they did it anyway. They checked his status on the INS computer and it showed that he had been illegal since March. It didn’t even matter that he was married to an American . . . noooooooooope! He just wasn’t a citizen and they didn’t like that.
He was in jail for two days and five more days waiting to be picked up by the INS people and go to the INS JAIL. His bail was up to $10,000. Bullshit! Pavel talked to some official and asked him if he could go back to the Bay Area and fix his troubles there, but of course they wouldn’t let him.
After 1 week in county jail, he was transported to the INS jail. He, and all these immigrants characters where together, mostly Mexicans.
They were all driven in a small van that was really crowded. The patrol borders kept discriminating against the Mexicans — singing songs like “la cucaracha” and making fun of them at all times. The guys needed to use the toilet and the cops wouldn’t let them go alone — they had to go together, and in handcuffs. They were all transported to a plane. They weren’t allowed to have a lot of stuff on the plane, so Pavel just took some books with him.
In the plane, funny and awkward things happened. Pavel had dreads and the INS mother fuckers kept joking about his looks and how they should cut his hair off because he had shit on him. But still, he feels that he was not treated as badly as the Mexican men. Probably because Pavel was white he was treated a littler better than the Mexicans, who the INS kept making fun of, telling them shit all the time, acting racist, treating them really poorly.
When Pavel got to the INS jail, first he had to wait for 6 hours in a small cell with 30 people — he couldn’t even lay down or stretch. Then, they moved everyone to a big dorm. He got a visit by a doctor asking him if he had any medical conditions. Pavel answered that he was vegan — that was his condition, that was the way he had been for a long time — but that did not matter at all. Pavel says that it was depressing that they would have 30 or 50 people all in one small cell, all non-US citizens.
Pavel was in the INS jail for 2 weeks. For those two weeks, the cops told him he had the right to make telephone calls, and so he did. But here is another important factor of this system — they never told him that the calls weren’t free. Now he ows them $300 ..yeah! See! It’s all about money. You could make a free call in jail . . . but you get charged later . . . isn’t that sick?
Well, Pavel got the chance of getting in touch with his people in the Bay Area — he even got a lawyer form the National Lawyer’s Guild. Since he was mobilizing in jail and getting hooked up with his people, they organized to help him. The Humanist Hall, Food Not Bombs and his wife sent letters to the INS and the jail staff to complain and to get him set free. In the end, they lowered the bail to $1,500 and the folks at the Humanist Hall paid for it.
Pavel says he’s really thankful to all the folks who helped him and also to all the solidarity that people showed for him and all those people out there. In the INS jail, he got to meet interesting people — non-US citizens, but humans. He got to read a lot, got to draw comics and think. He was also getting helped by Sun Young, a good lawyer from the NLG.
Pavel is now waiting for his court date in December. That day will be the day where the awful system is going to decide if he can or can not stay in this country. Who’s to choose that? Who’s to say where we can go? Who’s to say where we got to live our lives?
Hopefully, that day won’t be so bad and our friend will get to stay here, because here is where he wants to be. Here is where he is. Keep fighting and thanks to all those friends who help him — and fuck the evil INS.