Letter To The Department Of Homeland Security

October 24, 2008
Hackensack, New Jersey
To: The Office Of Detention And Removal Operations
U.S. Department Of Homeland Security
2o1 Varick Street, Room 1127
New York, NY 10014

Subject: My Possible Release From Custody, A 95 156 466

Hello. I was taken to Varick St and DO Galindo handed to me a copy of the Notice Of Custody Determination. Early this month I was given a Decision To Continue Detention by an ICE Officer at the Bergen County Jail. This is my response to both and a request that you release me immediately without bail on personal recognizance - no ankle bracelet - and grant me work authorization papers immediately while you take your time to make a final decision on my extremely strong case for political asylum. I have submitted two pieces of writing before: (1) America Needs Me: A Case For Political Asylum, and (2) A MLK Style Death Awaits Me In Nepal.

They woke me up this morning saying I got court. Once at Varick they told me I had no court, I had an interview. Then they said no interview, your DO wants to see you. I fell asleep on the bench in the waiting room. They woke me up: your DO wants to see you. I have decided to release you on a $7500 bond, he said. Still trying to wake up I said, can I please talk to my lawyer for about two minutes? This is nothing to do with your lawyer, he said and walked away, wrote something on some paper, his back to me, later I learned he had written the word "Refuse" where my signature should have been, made copies and walked away. Five minutes later he came back, handed me two sheets of paper, here's your copy, he said. I mean to take the bond, I said. Too late, he said. He threatened to send me off to Chicago. I have already talked to your lawyer, he said, and left.

How does someone in the justice business expect you to sign a legal document that they never handed to you so you could read it and then decide if you want to sign or not? The document says "You may request a review of this determination by an immigration judge." After reading that I would have gladly signed the document. Then I would have asked my lawyer to seek a review to lower or eliminate the bond amount.

Late in September DO Galindo came to see me in the messhall at Varick at dinner time and said I am your new DO. That was on a Tuesday. I will see you in person again on Friday, he said. That was a lie. On Wednesday I was taken to Bergen. You are to be released on October 9, he said. That was a lie. A few days after they brought me to Varick from Alabama they said pack up. Two weeks before that my sister had written to me saying I was to be "released immediately, without bail." At the last minute they said, sorry your flight has been cancelled. But my deportation order had been stayed.

A few days after immigration got me to Varick from Rikers Island on July 9 DO Khan put me through a similar treatment. Sign this, he said, or you could be looking at four years in jail. It was that standard document you sign saying you will cooperate with ICE to get travel documents for you. I have to read a document before I sign it, I said. I don't have the time for this, he said, and walked away in a huff. That incident has been reported this way in the Decision To Continue Detention: "On July 10, 2008 you were advised of your Post Order Custody Review. You failed to provide any useful documentation for consideration. As a result, you have failed to establish that you are not a threat to society or a flight risk."

He walked away. I read the two sheets of paper. It said I had the option to seek cancellation of the deportation order. I signed the papers and immediately wrote to DO Reeves who I had been told was my DO.

But this was a few days after July 9. This was not on July 10. I was not advised of anything on July 10.

DO Reeves came to see me a few days later. He had me sign the same documents in pen. He had fresh copies.

I would like to continue to quote from the Decision To Continue Detention further and comment on them.

"On March 13, 2008, you were served a Notice To Appear charging you under 237 (a)(1)(D)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (IWA). On May 13, 2008, you were ordered removed by an Immigration Judge (IJ)."

If you mailed me a letter to appear in court on May 13, and that same day decided in my absence to deport me, that too in Chicago, obviously you never wanted me in court, the idea always was to decide in my absence. The U.S. Postal Service does not deliver at the speed of email, and even if it could there was no way I could have made it to Chicago that day. On July 9 and a few days later twice I was pestered by ICE, why did you not show up in court? My two lawyers also grilled me on that. Now we know. I was never notified. The idea never was to notify me.

"On June 5, 2008, you were encountered at Rikers Island by ICE ....."

On June 5 I was at The Tomb in downtown Manhattan. How could anyone have encountered me on Rikers Island?

"A review of your criminal history reveals that on December 4, 1998, you were charged with Harassing Communication in Kentucky and sentenced to six months to serve three days."

My first court date for that was on December 4, 1998, but I was sentenced on January 22, 1999, and I was detained for 35 hours, not three days. Five years after that I had the option to get that misdemeanor, my only conviction, off my records, but I did not do it just like I did not renew my green card at the end of 2005. Einstein would sometimes misplace the keys to his apartment.

The harassing communication charge was pressed by a woman, Lyssabeth Mattoon, who succeeded me as student body president at Berea College, her sole complaint was that she received emails from me, nothing in person, nothing verbal. I had appointed her to the number three position in the student government the year before; she had been on campus only a few days. Half way into her year in office one day we got into an argument on the phone. She was relentlessly verbally abusive and disrespectful and racist. I mostly listened. After the phone part was over, over the next two days at odd moments, I did send her some emails, some were rude, some were naive, me trying to answer back to some of her accusations. In court she claimed that thing over the phone never happened. She lied. Not long after I had appointed her the previous year, she had written an article in the college newspaper calling me a rapist about a woman I was seeing at the time, about a night when there was no sex, no alcohol, and there was one other couple sleeping on the same floor only a few feet away. She had engaged in racist demonization.

The town judge refused me a state appointed attorney. When it was my turn to speak he shut me up saying he did not have time for political speeches. He asked me if I spoke Slovak. That was a reference to Iveta Kyselova. She was from Slovakia. We came to Berea together. She went on to Goldman Sachs. The point being if Berea can work for one foreigner, Iveta, why can't it work for another, me? The one email he read out loud in court had me saying the woman in question was "hot and spicey." That email did not come from me. It was a racist slight at my half Indian heritage. I was not allowed to look at all the emails that were used as evidence against me.

This was small town, Bible Belt South where a redneck once slowed down his pickup to yell at me: "Nigger, go back to your country!" The Mayor's wife worked for the college Vice President. The college was by far the largest employer in town. I had challenged the school authorities during my student government year and hurt feelings in the process.

The judge ordered me to not contact the said person for two years. I decided to not contact her for life. But when I came back from my 35 hour detention, she came to sit right next to me at Food Service, something she had never done before. I filed a complaint with the school authorities.

The college judicial process tried me for the same charge based on the same body of evidence and found me not guilty, trying the same person twice for the same crime, double jeopardy, a human rights violation. The college Vice President, Gail Wolford, did not like that decision. She went ahead and punished me anyway through exercise of administrative power: triple jeopardy. She froze my college email account for a few months.

"On Ma 27, 2002, you were arrested in Texas for Evading Arrest/Detention w/Vehicle and released on bail. On July 8, 2002 you plead guilty to - Fail to Control Speed and paid fine."

A month after 9/11, about six months after college graduation, on a whim, I went trucking. I quit after having thoroughly crisscrossed all 48 states in the continental U.S. and then moved to NYC where I have been since June 2005.

Now you can only drive eight hours at a time. In May 2002 the law was that you could drive 10 hours at a time. This was in northern Texas where noone lives, one in the morning, I had already driven nine hours 45 minutes. I was tired. I had my trucker radio off. I was looking for a place to park and go to sleep. Just then I saw a Rest Area. I pulled in. The 18-wheeler was moving at less than five miles per hour. I realized truckers before me already had all the spots. So I pulled out, went back on the road, and the first exit I saw I got off, but this was not one of those exits where you could have parked the truck on the shoulder of the on ramp,so I got back on the road. I got off at the next exit. That got me on to a side road. I parked the truck. That is when in my huge side mirror I saw an ambulance or two, I thought. Ambulances on a deserted road, what's going on? I opened the door, stepped out a little to look in the direction of the ambulances. They were not moving. I am like, oh no, looks like I parked my truck in a way that has blocked a road for ambulances, I must get out of the way fast. I slammed my door shut, and just as I was about to put the truck back into gear, I heard loud thumps on my trailer. They don't want me to move. Looks like it is an emergency situation and maybe they want me to help too. I decided to get out of the truck to walk to the back to see what was going on, to help out.

That is when I heard shouts. Get out of the truck, get down to the ground, lie down. Do you have a gun in your truck? I said no. This was a bunch of police officers. I did exactly what they asked me to do. They searched the truck and found nothing. The following day my bail bondsman told me that was a major drug route and they suspected there might be guns and drugs in my truck.

Those loud thumps, they had been gunshots. I remember it as my Amadou Diallo moment: they emptied their guns into my truck, less than 10-15 feet from me, after they saw my brown face.

What had happened was at the Rest Area my trailer had side swiped another parked truck and damaged its left headlight. That driver had called 911 and followed me. His truck I saw parked right behind mine. Insurance information was exchanged and he was immediately gone.

I was released on bail the following morning. I think I paid $300. The whole thing was resolved with me paying a speeding ticket for $80, as you note.

"On May 28, 2008, you were arrested for Criminal Contempt - 2nd by New York City Police."

On May 22 a city judge ordered me to not contact Elizabeth Caputo, Chairperson of DL21C, the top organization of young progressives in NYC, someone I met first in September 2006, who six months after had complimented me by saying "We DL21C people, we are all your fans, we all read your blog" and about whom I have talked fully at my blog democracyforum.blogspot.com at the blog post June 4, 2008 Court Appearance Prepared Statement Final Draft. Since May 22 I have not contacted Elizabeth, I have not gone to any of her events, the only place I saw her since September 2006, and I have not asked anyone else to contact her for me. There has been no court order violation. I have explained it fully in a four page essay called Second Night Spent In Jail: Unfair.

I have one misdemeanor conviction on my recond where my only accused bad behavior was email, a charge on which I was found not guilty by the college judicial process, a conviction I could have got off my record any time after January 22, 2004.

And looks like Elizabeth Caputo has dropped the harassment charge that got me into this immigration mess in the first place. You have not listed it in my "criminal history." Otherwise I was on schedule to growing my tech startup a little more and applying for a green card based on that.

I have not had a job since summer of 2005. Otherwise I have filed taxes every year before that.

I am not "a threat to society." Quite the opposite, I am a boon to society, to the world, although politically polarizing. That is the price you pay for being progressive, activist, charismatic.

At some level I do feel like you overemphasize the importance of the little pieces of paper that you issue. Greatness does not seem to come from U.S. citizenship. There are hundreds of thousands, millions of people out there who are U.S. citizens but who are dumb, mean, obese, lazy, ignorant, mediocre, unimaginative, cowardly, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, prone to crime. So let's have some perspective here before you declare me "a threat to society."

I am not a flight risk. I have had the same address my entire time in NYC. NYPD had had the option to knock on my door any day. I have been a public figure of sorts. I have been in the habit of announcing at my blog all the political events that I have been going to the past three years. My whereabouts have been public information. My career choice is such that I can't hide,I can't run. I don't want to.

After my green card expired I thought okay now I have to regain my status before I can get a job. I did not have the option to go back to Nepal for safety reasons. Although my lawyer Rudra now tells me because it was a valid marriage I could still have renewed my green card even though my marriage ended a few months before it was time to renew.

Look at it another way. I did Nobel Peace Prize quality work while I was out of status. Don't use that out of status thing against me too much.

But the real issue is this.You claim to be the Departent o Homeland Security. If you can't get Bin Laden, and if you can't recognize the un-Bin Laden, how can you claim to be a Department Of Homeland Securit? I am the un-Bin Laden.

Release me immediately without bail and grant me work authorization papers immediately. There is one person on this planet with a tried and tested formula for spreading democracy into all Arab countries, the only way to conclude the War OnTerror. That person is me.You get to recognize me. You get to release me from custody so I can get back to work. I did for Nepal, a country of 27 million, for no money, what Bush has not been able to do for Iraq, a country of 27 million, for a trillion dollars. That is my track record. And the best is yet to come. With the Bush formula it will cost 20 trillion dollars to take democracy to another 500 million people, money America does not have. With my formula it will cost little or no money, just a change in attitude towards immigrants from the Global South on the part of America. Malcolm X asked white America to stop using the word nigger. I am asking America to stop using the term alien. We are still one planet, no?

In Peace.
Paramendra Bhagat.

America Misunderstanding Immigration: Racist

September 27, 2008

Bergen County, New Jersey

I did for Nepal, a country of 27 million, for no money, what Bush has not been able to do for Iraq, a country of 27 million, for a trillion dollars. But America has kept me in jail for four months now. No judge ever sentenced me to serve time, but I am in jail. This is Guantanamo, yo.

The so-called greatest generation spread democracy in Europe. To call them the greatest generation is Eurocentric. In my view the greatest generation in the current Net generation, the generation that will wage relentless wars of communications technology to ensure a total spread of democracy. Almost all the action will be in the Global South. I intend to claim America on behalf of the Global South.

All immigrants into America are entrepreneurs. They take huge risks to come and work petty jobs, crazy hours. These are all soldiers for democracy, nonviolent soldiers for political, social and economic reform to their countries of origin. They can do what the US federal bureucracy intends to do but can't imagine doing. They need to be given their dignity and respect. The quota for legal immigration has to be realistically expanded, paperwork processing has to be vastly expedited, disrespectful language like "illegal alien" has to be eliminated - there are citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents, documented workers, and undocumented workers, there are American citizens, and there are international citizens, no illegal aliens - and just like for European immigrants 150 years ago, the Global South immigrants need residency not citizenship requirements for voting rights. You have to engender their political mobilization here if you seek a total spread of democracy.

America without a steady stream of immigrants year after year will cede its position as the number one economy in the world. The political respect to the immigrants better be in tune with that economic reality.

America is an ideal, a concept, that idea, that concept is democracy. It is high time for immigration reform.