Editor’s note: This is the latest blog post from a 27-year-old college graduate who ran a small construction clean-up company in Arizona until he was stopped by police for a traffic infraction in late summer of 2010. After Yogi (not his real name) was arrested and fingerprinted his information was shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was then transferred from jail to ICE custody because he lacked proper immigration papers. Yogi has lived in the United States since 1990. Deportation Nation is publishing his letters as a blog from the Florence Correctional Center, a private detention center in Arizona that is owned by the Corrections Corporation of America.
I consider myself layman. It’s not because I consider myself dumb, ignorant or inept, but because I feel I can always learn something and grow. In here, I have been able to do things otherwise unimaginable to me, like helping fellow detainees with their cases.
I am, in reality, the most stupid person here, with two degrees, never had I been so humbled as I am when I speak to a fellow detainee about their case, how they came to this country, and why they are detained all these teachings add to why I want to help people as soon as I get out. I am not sure how but if its in the realm of helping migrants then that’s what I want to do.
So far in here, I have helped one man win his cancellation of removal and one win his asylum case. At the moment, I am helping two more fellow detainees, one with cancelation and another asylum. This is something I would have never imagined I would do. And all that from a prison cell. I imagine its not unheard of and in fact, I think they call people that do this “jailhouse lawyers” I guess out of necessity and seeing the desperation of others the least I can do is try, but when we were successful its extremely gratifying. Like doing the impossible, taking on an entire system without resources or previous knowledge.
I would obviously never want to be incarcerated again, but to help someone get out is unexplainably special. It is self-rewarding and humbling simultaneously. The weird part comes when you see people leave you are overjoyed and jealous at the same time. I suppose it’s because of the uncertainty of how long you will be in, and continuing to wait for that fateful cry of: