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God Bless Pedro Zapeta

DISCLAIMER: I’m a bleeding-heart liberal, and today I am on my soap box, so Don’t Give Me Shit on This. It’s my blog and my heart.

…and Pedro Zapeta’s heart.

I don’t have a problem with immigrants, even “illegal” ones. The American Dream was borne of immigrants. We’re all Heinz 57 mutts, when you get right down to it.

And you can bet your sweet ass that if we lived today under the fist of a cruel dictatorship or in the midst of poverty, each and every one of us would be hightailing it to “The Land of Opportunity.”   We’re the light of the world, for Chrizts sake! Who wouldn’t rather be here?

Guatemalan Pedro Zapeta had his own American Dream: To come to America where he would get paid what was–for him–a decent wage for his hard work. He didn’t even want to stay forever…just long enough to save up some money. And so he somehow made it to Florida, where he landed what must have seemed a dream job as a dishwasher, making $5.50 an hour. For the next eleven years, keeping his belt tight, he skimped and saved…and worked and worked and worked.

He must have thought he hit a gold mine when he eventually got a 25 cent raise. Which was for good job performance, by the way. Wish I could meet some “American born” service workers who actually cared about their job performance. Being good at what you do seems to have gone out of style with the true blues.

Two years ago, Mr. Zapeta decided it was time to return home. With his entire life savings — $59,000 — in a duffel bag, he was going through customs at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, when a security officer called U. S Customs, who were quick to confiscate the money.

Although Customs Officials dropped original allegations that Mr. Zapeta was a drug currier, they were still All American enough to keep his money, because, after all, this non-English speaking illegal alien did break THE LAW when he attempted to leave the country with more than 10K and not declaring it. Duh! He sure wasn’t hiding it. It was in his duffel bag. That’s pretty much is the same as making a declaration–when you don’t speak a lick of English and haven’t a clue about THE LAW.

Then again, a home-grown USA boy –someone like Ken Lay or Joe Nacchio— would have used his good old American know-how to send that money electronically so that nobody would be the wiser. Come to think of it, maybe Mr. Zapeta’s only mistake is not understanding the NEW American Dream: Get the money and run, fucking over everybody and anybody while you’re at it.

Still holding on to his (very) hard earned cash, our Men on White Horses turned Mr. Zapeta over to the INS, who began deportation proceedings. But two lawyers with hearts (they do exist: I know quite a few from the kink-O-phone), working pro bono, took up his cause, fighting the deportation and trying to get his money back. And when the story made the news, donations came pouring in. Now 10K sits in a trust, which apparently Mr. Zapeta is also not permitted to have. But it seems that after two long years, officials are willing hammer out a (somewhat lacking) negotiation:

Robert Gershman, one of Zapeta’s attorneys, said federal prosecutors later offered his client a deal: He could take $10,000 of the original cash seized, plus $9,000 in donations as long as he didn’t talk publicly and left the country immediately.

But Pedro Zapeta is having none of it. He says, ” They are treating me like a criminal when all I am is a working man.” I agree with him, am rooting for him, am praying for him and champion him.

So it’s been two years since Customs officials took their stand at the OK Corral and saved the good people of the wild, wild west from the likes of Pedro Zapeta.

But somehow I just don’t feel any safer.

Do you?

xo, Angela


6 Responses to “God Bless Pedro Zapeta”

  1. Mr. Smith Says:


  2. PQS Says:

    Hooray for our ever-alert customs officials! I’ll bet this makes Lou Dobbs happy.

    Only the crowd that gave us Katrina could miss the irony of seeing to it that an illiterate Guatemalan dishwasher trying to return to his own country on his own dime is pulled off his plane, put into detention, and placed in removal proceedings — just so DHS can make sure he’s properly deported at taxpayer expense.

    Seizing everything he’s saved over 11 years washing dishes is a nice fillip too. My guess is DHS will require Pedro to account as to how he earned all that money while working for cash — which might be a little tough for Pedro.

    Sadly, every practicing immigration lawyer I know could tell you 10 or 15 stories just like Pedro’s.

  3. Angela Says:

    Dearest and cherished PQS (that’s Pervert Q. Savant to new readers, infamous author of the Zen Fetish serial kink-O-thon, Lingerie on the Razor-Wire)….

    I should have known you’d finally show up in response to this piece.

    God bless you, too.

  4. Metro Sissy Says:

    Well, it’s good to see Pervert Savant is finally getting back to where he belongs. Can’t wait for the new chapter you promised us. Maybe tomorrow?

    And I just have to say that your passion is what draws us to you like moths to flame. I will say a prayer for Pedro. He certainly deserves a break. This was a great, from-the-heart piece and I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

  5. jeremy Says:

    Now here is where laws that emerge from fear empower cowboys to shoot up some poor “indian” in the name of protecting us good citizens. His good lawyers should set up an account in Guatemala where money can be sent directly…but then again, that’s probably illegal too.

  6. David C. Says:

    I hope Pedro and his attorneys collectively kick their pencil-pushing, dick-weed, civil servant asses. Where’s the “civility” in civil servant. Never have figured that one out.

    Thanks for sharing the story of Pedro’s flight. Like PQS says, there are probably a million more stories just like this one.

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