Delali Dagadu is a former client who is now my intern. She was granted Withholding of Removal about a year ago. The Immigration Judge in her case denied asylum because Delali had failed to file her application within one year of arriving in the U.S. For many reasons, Withholding is not as good as asylum–you never get a green card or become a U.S. citizen; you cannot travel outside the country; you need to renew your work permit every year; some aliens with Withholding are required to report again and again to DHS to be “monitored.” While my client was grateful that she was not deported, she was not (and is not) thrilled with the restrictions of Withholding of Removal. She wrote a poem about her impression of the asylum experience in the United States–
Don’t talk to me about immigration until you have walked a mile in my shoes on the long road in search of freedom in a foreign land, leaving everything behind to start from the beginning.
Don’t declare to know what is best for immigrants (legal or illegal) until you have fought this web of a system.
Don’t tell me I stole your job, for you will never agree to clean toilets for $5.00 an hour in order to feed your family. Besides, how can I steal the job you have hired me to do? Are you not my employer, taking advantage of my desperate situation for your own gain?
Don’t tell me I am stealing your child’s right to good education; for knowledge can never be taken from an individual who has acquired it.
Don’t force me to learn English, because unlike you, English will be my 4th language.
Don’t immigrant hate until you can prove your ancestors originated from this land like the Native Americans (Remember them? The non-immigrants and the one true Americans).
If you ask me to go back to the land from whence I came, I will ask you to find your way first.
If you tell me that this land is your land, I will ask you how did you acquire it… with blood or gold?
And finally, don’t tell me I broke the law, when instead it’s the law that has broken me.
Originally from Liberia, Delali grew up on three continents in five different countries (Liberia, Egypt, Syria, Ghana, and the United States). She speaks English and is proficient in American Sign Language and French. In 2004, she obtained her BA Degree in Criminal Justice, French, and Psychology from Indiana University-Bloomington. She has worked in the field of mental health and career counseling since graduating from college. She is currently an intern with Dzubow & Pilcher, PLLC, and she plans to apply to law school. Delali may be contacted at DDagadu@gmail.com.