Friday, November 28, 2008

You are not wanted

This family's story highlights the position you may find yourself in one day. If the US does not deem the situation NOW in South Africa dire enough to grant these expats citizenship, how bad does it need to get before they do? Don't count on being able to hop on a plane and landing somewhere should matters go pear-shaped in South Africa. Live your life but have a contingency plan. The world truly does not want you.

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Anton Peens brought his family to America from South Africa eight years ago, but he says he still hasn't quite embraced that uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving. "Not totally yet," he said with a laugh. "It will not be a very thankful one this year."

That's because Peens, his wife and his two daughters, an eighth-grader and a senior in Kenton County schools, are packing their bags and selling their home in Independence. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is sending them back to South Africa on Dec. 5 unless someone hires Peens, sponsors him and takes over his immigration case.

"Not many are willing to fight the INS," he said. "It's expensive. It takes lawyers."

And it takes years of patience, often rewarded only by disappointment. The same federal bureaucracy that can't seem to do anything to stop illegal immigration can be surprisingly effective at deporting families that try to follow the rules. It brings to mind the proverb about swallowing a camel and choking on a gnat.

Peens was brought here on an H-1B visa, the kind used by employers to import foreign workers. His family filled out the paperwork to apply for permanent citizenship.

But his application has dragged out for nearly four years. South Africa lost one of the Peens' passports, and their application was stalled. "They are just overwhelmed," he said of the INS.

Meanwhile, his job as a computer applications developer for a Kroger contractor was eliminated. Without the job, his visa expired and INS told him he had to find a new sponsor or leave.

It's not a good time to find a job - even without the INS baggage. It's not a good time to sell a house, either. "It's almost impossible to get it sold," Peens said. "The way it looks, we can't even pay back the mortgage."

"There is no way they will let me stay," he said. So, while the Peens family and their friends hope for a miracle, they are packing to return to Johannesburg.

"If it were up to me, I'd rather not," he said.

He will miss his good friends. "They offered to hide us in an attic or a basement," he joked.

His daughters will have to repeat their schoolwork, because the calendar in South Africa begins in January. "They have to leave their friends behind and change their way of life," Peens said.

Amanda Lukas, a close friend of high school senior Jackie Peens, has written letters to congressmen, senators and others to get help.

But the official answer was always the same: Rules are rules. Nothing can be done.

Peens also worries about the "utter lawlessness" in South Africa. "When you leave home in the morning you're not sure it will be there when you get home at night," he said. Rising crime has been aggravated by unrestricted immigration and no border control, he said.

That's ironic. We have some of the same immigration problems in the U.S. - so the Peens family is being sent back to South Africa, where it's even worse.

"I can understand why people don't follow the rules if the rules don't work," Peens said. Knowing that many illegals will stay while his family is deported "can make you feel bitter," he said, "but that's the way it is."

Anyone who flies over the great open spaces of America knows we have plenty of room for families like the Peenses. They have paid their taxes, done their homework, followed the law - and yet the federal grinding stones will turn their dreams into dust.

Their story is repeated every day all over the country: Good people get deported, or stand in line for years to get to America, while others cut a hole in the fence. If this is what happens when you fill out the paperwork and play by the rules, why not take a chance and cross the border in the back of a van?

Peens says he probably won't be back for another Thanksgiving in America. He shared his story knowing it's probably too late for his family. "But maybe it will help somebody else."

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Latin America will take him and his entire family in a heartbeat.

Californian said...

Paleo-con Samuel Francis has written about Anarcho-Tyranny, wherein the state ignores criminality but instead puts the screws on the law abiding.

"What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through “sensitivity training” and multiculturalist curricula, “hate crime” laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny....The laws that are enforced are either those that extend or entrench the power of the state and its allies and internal elites … or else they are the laws that directly punish those recalcitrant and “pathological” elements in society who insist on behaving according to traditional norms—people who do not like to pay taxes, wear seat belts, or deliver their children to the mind-bending therapists who run the public schools; or the people who own and keep firearms, display or even wear the Confederate flag, put up Christmas trees, spank their children, and quote the Constitution or the Bible—not to mention dissident political figures who actually run for office and try to do something about mass immigration by Third World populations."