Friday, March 04, 2005

Sometimes, the Good Guys Win

I've been following this story for a couple of days - the immigration case of a well respected Boston school system teacher, who had worked his way up through the system, was teaching in a Boston high school, and was facing deportation today for a mistake he made in the "year that everything changed".

Yesterday, interspersed among the shill reporting for the Bush administration on NPR, I heard a low-key report regarding Obain Attouoman's plight. What struck me was not Attouoman's situation (hundreds of immigrants are deported on a monthly basis for not meeting timeframes or green card criteria), but INS's attitude -- which in a nutshell was "well, we can't be making exceptions for everybody. We have procedures." The snarkiness of the INS spokesperson literally dripped through the radio.

On the eve of Attouoman's deportation, John Kerry stepped up to the plate and sponsored a bill in the Senate to block the deportation. The Boston teacher now has a two year reprieve, and hopefully he'll now be able to successfully plead his asylum case (which seems pretty cut and dried to me).

Since the election, I've bashed John Kerry (and his campaign and the DNC) rather relentlessly, but I'm willing to give props where props are due. What puzzles me is why Attouoman was left swinging in the wind for so long. Until this story received national notice, it appeared that no politician cared enough investigate. In fact, Attouoman spent three months in jail because no politician cared enough to listen.

This is a story of extreme injustice that has a happy ending. But for each Obain Attouoman, there are thousands of equally deserving stories that don't get a hearing. A cookbook process for dealing with immigration issues, coupled with an overworked (and snarky) bureaucracy, doesn't really serve the huddled masses yearning to be free.

Beloved Teacher Facing Deportation Wins Reprieve