A reporter from Esquire started looking at California Republican Representative Devin Nunes and his family’s dairy farm, now moved from California to Iowa. Then the small town, deep in the heart of Iowa Representative Steve King’s district, got weird:
“On my third day in Sibley, I became used to the cars tailing me. In the morning, I was followed by the redhead in the muddy white Yukon. In the afternoon, there was a shift change and I was followed by a different, later-model white Yukon. I stuck a GoPro on my dashboard and left it running whenever I parked my car. When I reviewed the videos, one of the two Yukons could always be seen slowly circling as I ate lunch or interviewed someone.”
Nunes family members warned off people who were talking to the reporter. Some farmers needed no warning. They didn’t want any attention that might bring ICE down on the workers who feed and milk their cows. One, talking about Trump and King and immigration, told the reporter: “They want to send ’em all back to Mexico and have them start over. What a crock of malarkey. Who’s gonna milk the cows?”
Esquire’s fascinating story of intrigue in Iowa seems straightforward, compared to Edith Duran’s tragedy. She wanted the American Dream and tried to get it legally, paying a lawyer thousands of dollars over four years of paperwork and promises. Only one problem: Lawyer Leonard Hecht was lying to her, promising her a visa under a non-existent “10-year law.”
“But, according to a new civil lawsuit in federal court, really what her lawyer was doing was stringing her along, draining her funds, and effectively duping her into coming out from the shadows and declaring her presence in the US to the very government agents most undocumented immigrants spend lifetimes avoiding….
“The types of frauds that target immigrants have diversified over the past few years as they evolve with every new immigration rule…”
Now Duran faces deportation.
She was betrayed by a lawyer. Mohammad Hamid Ayoubi was betrayed by the U.S. government, after he was promised its protection. Waiting for a visa, he is separated from his wife, Zamina, and children, who are in the United States.
“Zarmina’s son needs 24-hour care. She needs her husband, a former interpreter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but he is stuck in immigration limbo.
“Every night at 11 p.m., after her sons have long gone to bed, Zarmina Noori drags a chair away from her kitchen table and into her youngest son’s bedroom. She places it next to the twin-sized bed where 14-year-old Ahmad sleeps hooked to the machine that helps him breathe. Then she sits down, holds her iPhone in one hand and a cup of black tea in the other, and waits for the phone to ring. …
“He worked with American soldiers and for the American people. They know my husband. I don’t know why they won’t give him a visa,” she continued. “If Trump was not president, maybe my husband would be here right now. I think Trump is making my husband not come.”
Seid Moradi was granted refugee status along with his family, but the Trump administrations delays and limits on refugees kept them stranded, waiting for the promised visas.
“As non-Muslims who’d fled death threats in Iran, the family barely scraped by in Turkey. His sons had trouble finding work because of discrimination toward refugees. His wife picked through trash bins for food. And the family of six crammed into a friend’s apartment.
“Moradi’s case had a special urgency, however. He needed life-saving surgery for a bulging blood vessel by his heart. An American doctor, he was told, could perform the operation once he arrived in the U.S….
“This month, more than four years after fleeing his small town of Sarpol-e Zahab near the Iraqi border and 15 months after he was told he could come to the U.S., Moradi collapsed and died on his balcony in Kayseri, Turkey. The swollen blood vessel had burst, triggering a heart attack. He was 54.”
Hope, in spite of it all
Majd AlGhatrif came from Syria years ago. He started a business, the Syriana Café and Gallery, in Ellicott City, Maryland in 2013.
This year, Ellicott City flooded, killing one man and destroying businesses. AlGhatrif asked other Syrian immigrants to join him in helping rebuild his adopted city.
“He knew that the community meant a lot not just to him, but also to other Syrian immigrants and refugees. His cafe employed several who, after years of fear during the Syrian war, had come to feel safe in Ellicott City….
“So within days, he got on Facebook and typed out a plea.
“Syriana [Café and Gallery]’s losses this time are dwarfed by the devastation to our community,” hewrote. “We see this as a responsibility to pay back those who embraced us and help them rise up again.”
“The response was immediate. Within 24 hours, people from 17 states, many of whom had never been to Ellicott City, had donated $10,000.”
One small story of hope. One more candle in the darkness.