Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of Work!

I had my first day of my new job at Catholic Charities in San José today. Things were a little disorganized because JVC had sent them the wrong start date in an email, and most of the people thought I was coming tomorrow rather than today. I spent some time talking to people and reading information about cultural orientation for refugees.

My seven housemates and I moved into our new house on Thursday. It is a former convent, and before that it was a mortuary (fun fact). It is huge, and we all get our own bedrooms! Here are a few photos.

Here's the front of our house:

Here's the inside of my messy room:

Our kitchen:

Our dining room:

I think it will be a great year.

Friday, August 7, 2009


It's always easier to feel passionate about something when it directly affects you or someone you care about.

On Wednesday I got an email from my friend saying that her boyfriend, who is from England and has been in the U.S. this last year on a volunteer visa, had his application for another volunteer visa denied. His ties in the U.K. aren't strong enough to convince the U.S. government that he'll want to go back. Their plans for this coming year were torn apart. Now he'll try to get a work permit, and if that doesn't work, they might just get married (the fiance visa can take many months and lots of money, though). If he tries to come as a tourist during this time and they decide not to let him in, he could be banned from the country for 10 years.

This morning I got a text from my now former coworker saying that one of the people whose case I had worked on (someone I had spent quite a bit of time with) just got deported. He had been living here for years, spoke very good English, and held a steady job. He got picked up by county police for outstanding traffic tickets, handed over to ICE, and shipped back to Mexico. All of his belongings are in the U.S. He's staying in a shelter and all he has is the money that was in his pocket. He called to see if we could talk to a lawyer and see if there's a way he can come to the U.S. legally. I know the answer already - no way. He'll probably cross illegally again, which will most likely cost thousands of dollars and/or put him in great danger.

The harshness of the immigration system is much clearer when you know the people whose lives are being disrupted and destroyed by it. When you hear abstract talk of immigration reform, remember that these are real people whose fates are being discussed, and we need to do something so that the human rights and dignity of every person are respected.