The great equalizer

October 6, 2011 — Delaney Hall Detention Facility, Newark, New Jersey

Finally, I tried to turn my thoughts away from the others because I saw quite clearly today that none of that mattered right now. It was hard to swallow that I was thought of by the guards as just like the others. That I’d been brought up to believe I was gifted, more special than the rest was laughable in this environment and that scared me. Who I was, how I viewed myself, all of it, knocked on its ass. This feeling of being just like the others felt bitter, unwelcome. I saw it in the guard’s eyes, or should I say their lack of eye contact. To those in charge at Delaney, I was just a guy who was now a detainee. Delaney, the great equalizer.

So I turn to what is easier to understand: the facts. Eni and I are locked up. A first in my life and his. It felt surreal, a dash of curiosity added to the cocktail of emotions. I’d been stripped of everything but my eyeglasses, including basic human interaction, like eye contact and civil conversation. The system had moved me into a different category of human being – just a notch above cattle. This realization obviously didn’t sit well.

I feel off-center as I lay there, the nagging question of who I am, how I am seen, just won’t go away. I am used to respect, for who I am and what I’ve accomplished … so was this a bruised ego I am acknowledging? Pondering that for a bit, I know this is only part of it. I am human after all, and unless you’re Christ or Ghandi you probably can’t ever remove ego. But I mustn’t look at that right now. It’s the other thing, the big question.

How was I going to fix this?

After all, that’s the expectation for a husband, father, man of the house. I’d gotten us into this, and I was the one who needed to get us out. How would I have my voice heard?

2 thoughts on “The great equalizer

  1. Just like Atanas, was deported after 15 years of stnuiydg, teaching, researching, and working in North America for accidentally overstaying an H1B work visa while on medical leave.Most detention facilities are harsh places with jail like conditions filled with folks in orange jumpsuits that get chained up like hector hannibal on each transfer. They share similar sad stories: lived most of their life in the US, were snatched off the street, now jailed, then deported. Even kids brought in illegally by their parents as two-year-olds are 16 years later deported to countries that are foreign to them, … Well paid ICE “special agents” as well as the privately run county jails or similar get generous federal funds for each detained & deported person so they have an interest in keeping as many folks as long as possible so that they “run” at full capacity at all times.

    • Thank you for your comment. It is spot-on.

      The US has lost its way on immigration. It follows outdated immigration policies that have failed to keep up with today’s global realities.

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