In life, one must be tireless

One of my GFs called me with an infuriating story about two of her employees who have been picked up by GNC, one on his fifth permit, the other on his third.

They were detained for the purpose of deportation and are being held at the GNC’s fantastic facility behind the airport.

As soon as GNC has a plane load – it may take weeks, months, a ’humanitarian flight’ is booked in order to repatriate the detainees to Venezuela.

I called a lawyer friend, also familiar with our immigration laws:

Some people are detained with nothing in order, and some are in the DIMAS pipeline, having submitted residence and/or work papers. HOWEVER, for the past DECADES immigration has been slowing down the process, weaponizing time, and no matter how swiftly you react to their slow, you are always late, gaps form in your legal status, you are at fault, even without it being your fault.

How many times did you hear the story about a permit arriving one week before it expires, and you are already late in the submission process of the next?!

Doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t.

In civil matters, legal assistance in often provided by the state, but in criminal cases, as you are detained undocumented, while you are waiting to hear from DIMAS, you are on your own, and not entitled to legal aid, you’d better have a nice employer prepared to pay for your defense, or be able to afford it yourself.

Few do.

And employers often wash their hands, and look the other way.

By law, 72 hours after being shockingly arrested, plucked from familiar surroundings, dumped into a cell and uncertainty, you are in court, alone, with no one to hold your hands and lead you through a complicated procedure that is often a mystery to even most-experienced lawyers. You are bound to make mistakes that will be held against you.

Under normal circumstances, a petition has to be answered within 6 weeks, but it never does, and you must follow up, then you are given some more time, and you must assume the answer is negative and you may go to LAR, but they are overworked and overburdened and do not adhere to stipulated legal timetables, then you may appeal the decision when it is finally made, and while the judge can deal with the appeal against deportation, you must argue your case against detention in front of another judge. And the go-betweens you trusted with your money, the ones who promised to fix all papers are never responsible for botched cases, they collect money and push papers around, with NO guarantee.

For decades, our immigration and naturalization service has had no urge to fix anything, no willingness to help, with detention and deportation as the end result.  

Unless, you are tireless, and have considerable resources. If you don’t let the process wear you down, if you don’t give up, then perhaps, you are rewarded, but our system will do its best to discourage you, for you to throw in the towel. 

For an island that was helped so much by successful waves of immigration, this is very upsetting.   

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January 18, 2021
Rona Coster