by Bruce Kamei
“Can I have a Rover here at sixty-nine and seventy?” an immigration inspector asked over the radio.
“What’s the problem?” asked INS Acting Supervisory Immigration Inspector Takeshi Tsukemoto. Sixty-nine and seventy was the immigrant booth, where immigrants arriving at Los Angeles International Airport would bring their immigrant visas, wait their turn, have their right index finger printed, and have their photo taken. The immigrant visas had already been approved by the State Department, so the inspector’s job was to verify the information on the visa was legitimate; it was the easiest assignment for an inspector. He recognized the voice to be Deeba’s, who usually did not call unless there was a serious problem. “I have two flights coming in, and I’m the only supervisor here on primary.”
“Cousin ‘Itt’ is here. Her husband is demanding to see a supervisor.”
“What’s a Cousin ‘Itt’?” asked Tak.
“Cousin Itt from the The Addams Family. The short one covered in floor length hair who wears a bowler hat and sunglasses. She’s not wearing the hat or glasses now.”
“What? I’m coming over now.” He walked across the inspections floor, passing fifty individual inspection booths. A huge America flag, almost the length of the inspection hall, hung overhead. Tak walked past the endless queues of people wanting to get admitted into the United States. Walking back and forth and being called to individual booths to answer questions the inspectors did not know regarding admissibility was normal. Most were simple, something he thought the inspectors should already know.
At the northern end of the inspection area, Tak saw Inspector Deeba Mir behind the table of sixty-nine and seventy. An older man of Middle Eastern descent and another person wearing a black burqa were standing on the other side. Deeba was right, cover her burqa with floor length hair, a hat and sunglasses, and she would look like Cousin Itt, thought Tak. On top of the desk was her immigrant file. Most immigrant visas files contained fewer than fifty sheets of paper; this had two folders, each twelve inches thick.
“You supervisor here?” the man asked.
“Yes, what’s the problem?”
“She woman,” he said pointing to Deeba.
“Yes, I’ve noticed that,” said Tak.
“She woman. In my country, woman not assist man.”
“Sir, you don’t have a choice. We are really short handed today, and Inspector Mir is the only inspector I have to work here.”
“What your name? I am American citizen, I report you!
“My name is Tsukemoto. Please feel free to report me. Inspector Mir will even provide you with the address to file the complaint. If you don’t want to be assisted by Inspector Deeba, you will have to wait until you wish to cooperate,” said Tak.
Tak waved Deeba over to the other side of the booth. “Get his name, date of birth, his passport number, and her alien number.”
Deeba want back and retrieved the immigrant visa. “His name is Bilai Abassi, her name is Parisa. His US passport number is 767987541, date of birth of April 10, 1941, and her alien number is A 070 4923 912.” Tak wrote the information in his note pad and placed it into his shirt pocket. Document everything to cover your ass, his first training officer Joe Koystic had told him.
“What’s his problem?” he asked Deeba.
“He’s a Pakistani hillbilly. They can’t stand to have a woman tell them what to do. They make women wear that tent in the name of religion. It’s really all about power and control.”
“She can’t be Cousin Itt,” Tak said to Deeba.
“Because Cousin Itt was a male.”
“Only you, and only you, would remind someone of that trivial of a detail,” said Deeba.
“It’s not a trivial detail. It’s a fact.”
Tak before walking back to the primary heard Deeba speaking Urdu to the man. The man stood there, arms across this chest not saying anything. Tak never could figure out why Deeba, a certified public account, was working as an inspector. But the LAX immigration officers were grateful that she was here since no one else could speak Urdu. Pakistanis with fraudulent passports, fraudulent visas, and no passports were arriving in greater numbers everyday. The record was last week, sixty Pakistanis with no passports on one flight. Deeba was translating over twenty-four hours straight. Tak almost asked her out several times in the last three years but couldn’t after becoming a supervisor
As an immigration inspector for the last five years, and three months as an acting supervisor, Tak quickly learned where term “Ugly American” had come from. An hour later, a Military Airlift Command flight from Clark and Subic Bay bases from the Philippines brought in US soldiers and Filipina wives, most of whom required waivers for prostitution. The Military Airlift Command today brought eighty Filipina brides; Tak assigned two more inspectors to assist Deeba. Tak heard what he always hears from the soldiers: “Get your ass to the baggage claim and get the bags!” “I told you to sit there!” or “I’ll beat your ass for that!” And later today, tomorrow, and the next tomorrow will arrive plenty of bald and pot bellied Americans with brides young enough to be their grand daughters from Thailand, Korea, Philippines, China and everywhere else. Pretty disgusting, he thought but learned early that he had to follow the law and not what he thought. “Don’t think about too much, it’ll kill you. There isn’t a damn thing you can do about it because it isn’t illegal so they’re going keep on coming in. You can’t care about those cases,” said Joe Koystic.
“He wants to talk to you again,” said Deeba over the radio.
“He’s demanding an explanation for why the MAC flight got served before him.”
“On my way.”
“You racist!” said Bilai Abassi.
“Sir, how am I racist?”
“You help all Asians before me. You Asian so help your kind first. You not like Middle Eastern people?”
“Sir, they cooperated, and you didn’t. I have other flights with more immigrants coming now. You can cooperate now with Inspector Mir or wait again.”
“Okay. I okay her help me,” Abassi finally said.
Tak knew Korean Air passengers were in the inspection hall since the LAX Port Director Art Alvarez had come to the inspections area, the only time he came. Tak thought of him as a Neanderthal, wearing full bird colonel epaulets. He was short, portly, and had crooked front teeth. He walked to the back of the hall where the passengers would enter into the inspection terminal and sat along the back wall where four to five young Korean Air agents would take turns sitting next to him on both sides, and rub his chest and inner thighs. Tak knew that those girls were specifically hired for Alvarez since Tak had never seen those girls helping their passengers like the older women and male Korean Air agents. They, and Alvarez, would leave after all the Korean Air passengers left the inspection area. Korean Air wasn’t stupid, they knew what Alvarez liked. Rumor had it that two million dollars in fines against Korean Air disappeared when Alvarez intervened on their behalf. Some inspectors contacted internal affairs, but his buddies in internal affairs refused to investigate.
Whenever Korean Air came, they brought a lot of immigrants. Most were elderly, many in wheelchairs, a lot on oxygen, and some on gurneys with IV tubes in them. Almost all asked about if they could receive Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or state benefits with the receipt we gave them. It wasn’t just Korean Air, for the majority of Asian airlines brought immigrants just like them. Tak knew that they were potential future public charges thus inadmissible but couldn’t prove that so he had no other choice than to admit them. As his first training officer said, “Just do your job. You only fight for the cases that really matter, and you can do something about it. They’ll be plenty of them.”
“He wants to talk to you again,” said Deeba over the radio.
“He wants to know why a male officer didn’t helped him.”
Not another walk across the hall to the immigrant booth, thought Tak.
“Two males here and not help me. You tell one come back and help me. I call congressman and lawyer,” said Abassi.
“Sir, call whomever you want! I sent those two officers because they were temporarily needed here. I no longer need them here so I sent them to other more important duties. Sir, you really getting on my nerves! I’ve got more important issues than listen to your whining!”
“You not talk to me like that! I call congressman! You very rude. You hear me?”
“Sir, all I hear is your crying! Like some little child crying when he doesn’t get his way. So be quiet and do what Inspector Mir tells you.”
Abassi started gasping for air. “Demand see your supervisor. Now!”
“Wow,” Deeba whispered to Tak. “Known you three years and never heard you talk to a passenger like that.”
“I’ve never seen a character like him before.”
After Tak wrote the incident in his note pad he went back to the operations office to inform his supervisor Bill Andersen of the situation. Everyone referred to Bill as Wild Bill Hickok. He was a thirty-five year veteran of the INS and known for his knowledge of immigration law, but also known for the thumbnail size warts on his face. Some days it seemed he had more or less warts and some larger or smaller than others, depending on the day. Bill was also known for his unique methods to deal with difficult people. Tak and Bill went to the immigrant booth.
“You his supervisor?” asked Abassi.
“How may I help you?” asked Bill.
“He racist. Help other Asians before me. File complaint.”
Bill leaned into his face. “If you’re not happy with our service, might I suggest that you get the hell right back on the plane and go back wherever the fuck you came from! If you need assistance, my inspectors will be more than happy to drag your sorry ass back on the plane. Is that clear! Have a nice day.”
“Thank you Assistant Port Director Andersen,” said Tak.
Bill walked back to the office.
Half an hour later, Deeba called again. “We’ve got another situation here.”
“You really need to come.”
“What’s the problem?” asked Tak.
“He’s refusing to have her take off the hood for the picture.”
“Sir!” said Tak. “I had enough of your crap. No picture, and you’ll never leave here. Understand!”
“That my religion. You have no right question my religion.”
“Sir, if you don’t want to follow our rules, as Assistant Port Director said, you can just get back on the plane and get the fuck out of here!”
“I call lawyer!” Abassi went to the bank of phones near the bathrooms.
Abassi came back and sat on a row of chairs, grinning.
“We screwed up,” Deeba said looking at the file.
“Look,” she said pointing to the biographical information on the visa. “He’s forty-seven, and she’s fifteen. Is that legal?”
Tak examined the two thick folders. Abassi twice petitioned for a fiancé K-1 visa and both were denied for the two had not seen each other in two years. The appeals were also denied. Apparently, she was betrothed to him when she was two years old. After the denials, he married her in Pakistan to get the ‘Green Card,’ which was approved, but the file contained a note from a State Department officer expressing his concerns about her age.
Tak went back to the operations office and asked Bill about the legality of a fifteen year old being petitioned in as spouse.
“Unfortunately, there’s no regulation about how young a wife can be in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Those fucks in Washington and our asshole politicians felt it was improper to impose our cultural values onto those from other cultures. Them shits! You really can’t do anything unless something else come up,” said Bill.
“Like if she admits it was marriage fraud, or she’s getting paid to pretend she’s his wife just to get the ‘Green Card.’ Be creative and look for any opportunity to take advantage.”
An hour later Alvarez came to the inspection hall. Tak knew if wasn’t good since the Korean Air girls were gone. “What’s the fuck is going on here? Just got a call from attorney Steve Butcher who said his client is being disrespected and harassed.”
“It him!” yelled Abassi. “I humiliated. He racist not respect my religion.”
Tak took out his note pad and read back what occurred. “He wouldn’t take off the hood so we can’t take the picture.”
“Do a waiver!”
“Sir, there’s no such waiver in the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
“I’m making the waiver,” said Alvarez.
“Sir, you have no such authorization.”
“I’m the Port Director! I can do whatever I want!”
“Sir, I would feel better if we consulted our attorneys about that?”
Alvarez waived Abassi to the desk. “I am so sorry for the disrespect my officer has committed. He will be severely disciplined. I have spoken to your attorney who said you are most cooperative and will do whatever is needed to accommodate us. A picture of your beautiful wife is required so I must beg you to remove the cover. Please!”
“You wonderful compassionate man. You in charge for reason. You humble so I allow her face be seen for picture.”
Alvarez gave Abassi his business card. “Take the picture and stamp her in! That’s an order.”
“Sir, there’s also the fact she’s fifteen years old”
“Age doesn’t matter—nothing in the law about it. Stamp her in!”
Tak took out a copy of Immigration and Nationality Act placed at the table. “Sir, Section 235 states, ‘Challenge of Decision-The decision of the examining immigration officer, if favorable to the admission of any alien, shall be subject to challenge y any other immigration officer and such challenge shall operate to take the alien whose privilege to be admitted is so challenged, before an immigration judge of a proceeding under Section 240.’ Sir, I’m challenging your decision.”
“Who the fuck you think you are? I can fire you right now!”
“Sir, you can’t. I’ve passed my career three-year conditional phase. Unless I commit a crime, I can’t be fired.”
“Read the law, Tsukemoto. You always carry that book up your ass and recite from it. If you find a regulation about age, I’ll agree with you. Until then, stamp her in!” He left.
Takseshi saw Bill sitting by the booth listening. Alvarez was correct, he thought. Bill said there was no requirement that a spouse had to be eighteen or older. He couldn’t prove that it was a fraudulent marriage, nor could he prove that Abassi was some sort of trafficker of underage women, nothing to prove she was inadmissible. “Inspector Mir, please take her picture and print, and stamp her in.”
“I’m doing this under protest. Will you use your stamps so it wouldn’t back to me as the culprit who let in a minor?”
“Yes, use my stamps.” Tak wrote down the situation in his note pad.
Deeba printed her, holding Parisa’s hand. After the hood was removed for the picture, it was apparent she had been crying, tears running down her cheeks. Parisa then whispered into Deeba’s ear.
“What!” Deeba said. She pulled Parisa to the other side of the booth.
“What going on?” yelled Abassi, starting to walk to the other side.
“Get away! Someone get this clown away from her.”
“Inspectors!” Tak yelled to three inspectors walking past the booth. “Keep him there!”
Deeba and Abassi kept yelling at each other in Urdu. Parisa sat in a chair, cying.
“What did she say,” Tak asked Deeba.
“The bastard has been raping her since they got married and told her he’s going to rape again tonight! That asshole!”
Tak saw Bill go back inside the office. Tak followed Bill and told him the situation.
“Stamp her in! Admit her!”
“What are you talking about? I can’t admit someone knowing that the asshole is going to rape her?”
“Just do it! But keep her here until I tell you!”
“Bill, I’m disappointed in you.”
Five minutes later, four Los Angeles International Airport police officers arrived.
“You rang? Dispatch said you got a rapist and child molester here,” said Officer Milstead to Bill.
“Tak has the case,” said Bill.
“Hi Leon, let me brief you,” said Tak.
Deeba had her arms around Parisa’s right shoulder, with a woman officer taking a statement that nearly took two hours, Parisa often in tears while giving a statement. “She has a lot of guts telling us about the bastard,” said Deeba wiping away her own tears.
“That’s why she’s going to survive,” said the woman officer.
Abassi kept yelling and standing up until one of the inspectors pushed him back into the chair.
Two hours later, the LAX officers handcuffed Abassi and read him his Miranda Rights. “You’re being detained pending an investigation for multiple violations of California Penal Code 261, Rape; multiple violations of California Penal Code 261.5, Unlawful sex with a minor; violations of California Penal Code 288a(b)(1), Oral Copulation under with person under 18; violations of California Penal Code, 288a(c)(2)(3), Oral Copulation by force, fear, or threats; violations of California Penal Code 422, Making Terrorist Threats.” Officer Milstead told Abassi. “You sick bastard! Wait until you get to county jail tonight and the inmates find out you’re a child molester. You’ll be walking funny tomorrow morning.”
“Will the rape charges stick since it happened outside the United States,” ask Tak.
“Don’t know, but I’m stacking the charges. It’ll prevent him from making bail anytime soon. Let the District Attorney’s office figure it out. We can at least try. I know the Terrorist charge will stick since he threatened to rape her here.”
The four officers carried Abassi out of the inspection area, Abassi screaming in Urdu.
“Did you stamp her in yet?” Bill asked.
“Shouldn’t we just defer her inspection instead admitting her?”
“Damn it, Tak! Do what I say! Listen to me! Admit her so she can get benefits here! She most likely wouldn’t get anything if she were deferred.”
“What are we going to do with her? We can’t released her to the bastard’s family.”
“Already called Sharon Petros, head of Children Services. She’s coming down here. Already briefed. We go back a long time. Sharon ain’t going to let that freak near Parisa.”
“Bill, I’m sorry about what I said to you earlier.
“After thirty-five years, you learn a few tricks.”
Tak sat with Deeba and Parisa until Sharon Petros arrived. Sharon and Bill hugged each other. Deeba agreed to go with them for the night. Bill authorized the overtime.
“You know you just blew that promotion,” Deeba said to Tak.
“Do I want the job? Yes. Can I handle anymore of this shit? I don’t know. It’s one thing to say the bad guys are shooting at you, but I never knew my side would also be shooting at me. I never expected anything like this, I’m just trying to do the right thing.”
The next morning Bill, Deeba, and Takeshi were summoned to Alvarez’s office.
“What the fuck did you do? I got a call from his attorney. You know who he is?”
“No,” said Tak and Deeba.
“Do I care?” asked Bill.
“You damn well better care!” His carotid arteries on both sides of neck were pulsating. “He’s the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Los Angeles. He invites me to their monthly luncheons. He meets with our Commissioner in DC every year. So far, he called the Commissioner, the District Director, and our attorneys about my inspectors putting their noses into something they had no business in.”
“And you, Tsukemoto, I find that you can’t differentiate your personal feelings from what’s in the law! You’re no longer an acting supervisor nor will you ever be a supervisor! You openly disobeyed my orders. From now on, you’ll only be working primary. I’ll make sure you’ll rot out there.”
“Look, ‘Art!’ I stamped her in, just like you said. In fact, I wrote it down,” said Tak taking out his note pad.
Deeba poked him with her elbow.
“And you, Mir, if it weren’t the fact you just passed your three years career conditional probation, I would have fired you,” said Alvarez. “I know you two are tight but stay away from him if you want to go higher.”
“Yes sir,” Deeba said and poked Takeshi once more.
“What were we supposed to do, ‘Art?’ asked Tak. “She said she was being raped, a fifteen year old minor. We couldn’t just release her to that clown.”
“Easy,” Deeba whispered to Tak.
“We’re not cops here, “ said Alvarez.
“ Look ‘Art,’ we could prosecute him under Title 10, United States Code, Section 920, Rapes Generally. I looked it up.”
“Those rapes happened out of the United States. We have no jurisdiction.”
“ ‘Art,’ Title 10, United States Code, Section 920 doesn’t say if the rapes need to be inside of the US. Also, they’re a lot of federal statues pertaining to sexual abuse. Why don’t you ask our attorneys downtown? Maybe one of those statues can apply here.”
“You now have the entire federal code of regulations also stuck up your ass? Who’s going to prosecute him? Inspectors don’t have the authority to prosecute for anything but Title18 and Title 8. FBI has all other jurisdiction!”
“You’re wrong! We have full authority to prosecute any federal law. That’s why we have special agents downtown,” said Bill.
“I can’t ask investigations to dedicate three agents for three to six months. Fuck no! Get on with reality! These people been doing this for centuries, it’s their problem. ”
“I can’t believe you said that. Are you out of your mind!” said Tak standing up. “She’s fifteen! She’s been raped! She’s going to continue to get raped again unless we do something about it. And she’s here! That makes it our problem!”
“Touché,” said Bill standing and applauding. “Wondered when you’d grow some hair on your balls.”
“ ‘Art,’ “ said Tak. “Did you even ask if they take the case?”
“I don’t need to ask. I already know the answer. I’ll also bet those state charges will be thrown out! Those airport cops don’t know what fuck they’re doing.”
“At least they’re trying to do something!” said Tak. “Unlike someone else.”
Bill shook Tak’s hand. “Alert! Hair growing fast. You’re going to look like a Sasquatch pretty soon. ”
“Abassi threatened to rape her last night in California. That’s within the California Code 422, Making Terrorist Threats,” said Tak. “That’s enough for the locals to prosecute.”
“Now you also have the California Penal Code up your ass. Must be getting crowded up there. When did you become a lawyer? And you, Andersen,” said Alvarez with his arteries still pulsating. “You’re the second line supervisor! What do you to say for yourself?”
“I guess you won’t be invited to that luncheon this month. How would you know about prosecution? You’ve never been an investigator?” asked Bill laughing.
“What!” yelled Alvarez. “This isn’t about me. Because of you three, Abassi was raped in jail last night! His lawyer is considering suing us!”
“Was it as good for him as it was for them?”
“You better watch your mouth! I’ll be watching you, and I’ll fuck you for any little miscue you make.”
“Go ahead,” said Bill standing up. “You fuck with me, and I might just call a press conference and show all the pictures I have with you with those young Korean Air girls rolling on top of you. And don’t think I haven’t researched the missing two million dollar fine, have you? You know I’ve taken down higher fucks than you, so you watch it! Forgot to tell you, Tak’s my photographer. He’s Japanese you know. He also has pictures. You gonna fire his ass now?”
“Thank you Bill, you’re a fucking genius,” Tak said after Alvarez yelled at them
to leave. Tak thought Alvarez’s arteries were about to burst.
“You shut up, listen, and look. All these clowns think they can do and say whatever they want, not knowing they’re leaving a trail of their crap. They’ll lie to you, stab you in the back, and smile at you while they fuck you. You pick up that crap and put it in a bucket. When they try to fuck you, pour that bucket over their heads. That’s how you have to deal with these fucking high up climbing politicians; that’s the only language they understand. I’ll be in the office.”
“Since when you get so brave?” asked Deeba to Tak, both walking out to the primary line. “Only yesterday, you referred to Art as ‘Sir!’ “
Bill told Tak that he would be sitting in booth ten on primary. Only after Alvarez left, Bill had him become a Rover or go to Immigration Secondary to handle complicated cases.
“I love my booth,” said Tak sitting in booth ten at the far south side of the inspection hall. “No one calls me or asks questions, and I don’t have to walk up and down this place. My feet no longer swell up,” he told other inspectors.
A week later, Deeba woke up Tak and showed him an article from The Pakistan Link, a Pakistani American newspaper, that she bought that morning at a Pakistani market while shopping for breakfast. The article read:
The American Pakistan Foundation (APF) commends INS LAX Port Director Arthur Alvarez for being instrumental in the arrest of Bilai Abassi, a
naturalized United States citizen, who tried to bring in his fifteen year old wife, Parisa, who had been betrothed to him when she was two years old, into the United States. Abassi had apparently sexually assaulted her. While betrothing is still practiced in Pakistan, the APF certainly does not condone sexual attacks, especially on minors. This arrest was made due to the newly formed Child Exploitation Task Force that Port Director Alvarez had created. For the last several months, Port Director Alvarez procured intensive training for a select number of highly motivated inspectors to battle this practice. Port Director Alvarez also had his inspectors admit, not defer, the victim so she can obtain public services entitled to any ‘Green Card’ holder. She is now in care of a Pakistani foster family who said she is starting to laugh again. To show our gratitude, Port Director Alvarez will be our guest of honor at our next month’s luncheon. The INS Commissioner from Washington and the Los Angeles District Director will also attend the luncheon to present Port Director Alvarez awards.
“You can’t make this up,” said Deeba. “Why don’t to take that small camera you
bought the other day and take pictures of Alvarez getting his awards?”
The next morning, at booth ten, Tak wrote LAX Child Exploitation Task Force on several pieces of paper with a pink marker and hung them along top of the booth like a horizontal banner.
After the Korean Air passengers left the inspection area, Alvarez passed by booth 10. “What the fuck is this? Take it down!”
“ ‘Art,’ check this out,” said Tak, holding a camera. “Has a wicked built in zoom lens. Took some great photos today. Perhaps I can go to the luncheon and take photos of you with the Commissioner and District Director. I can brief them about the your Child Exploitation Task Force. ”
Alvarez’s carotid arteries began to pulsate. He left, mumbling to himself.
Tak no longer cared about old guys marrying girls young enough to be their grand daughters, the soldiers bringing in hookers, nor the ones who eventually go on to become public charges. He contemplated staying at booth ten and not working anywhere else but decided against it for he could conduct cases in the future that really matter, knowing now that own side will be shooting at him.
About the Author:
Bruce Kamei is a retired US federal immigration special agent. Prior to becoming a “Fed,” he received an MFA from Wichita State University (long time ago). In his 25 years as a Migra, he experienced and saw situations that most could not even imagine, and how it affects both the immigrants and agents.