“Do you know who this man is?” asked Japanese Consul General Kenzo Oyama of Los Angeles.  He stood in front of the desk of Supervisory Immigration Inspector Takeshi Tsukemoto.

            “Hidenori Yamazaki,” said Takeshi.

            “He is the new president of Suntory USA.  Do you know what that company is?” asked Oyama, on the verge of yelling.

            “Biggest beer and whiskey maker in Japan, probably the top three in the world.”

            “You cannot deport him!” said Oyama.  “This is all a misunderstanding!” said Oyama, his cheeks turning red.

            “I’m not deporting him but removing him,” said Takeshi.  “There’s a difference.”

            “This is not a joking matter!” said Oyama.

            “I’m not joking,” said Takeshi.

            Earlier that morning, Takeshi was informed that Japan Airlines requested an expedited inspection of a VIP through the crew booth.  After five years, two as a supervisor, he knew VIPs were the Japanese mafia the yakuza, celebrities, or diplomats; the first two constantly tried to get away with things.

Prior to Takeshi starting as an inspector, LAX removed only one Japanese national in the previous three years.  Now it was five or more a day, the highest number in the nation, with Takeshi leading the way.  He resented that the staff of all the Japanese airlines referred to him as ‘Tak, The Asshole,’ for he was only doing his job.

Other inspectors at LAX constantly told him how lucky he was and envied his knowledge of the language and culture of his ancestors.  A type of blessing, a gift, they said.  Takeshi thought so too.

            Takeshi waited at the bottom of escalator for the VIP.  Three Japan Airlines agents carried five carry-on bags and walked behind a man wearing a dark suit.  Takeshi knew this man was not yakuza since he was not wearing flashy clothes.

            “May I see your passport and declaration,” asked Takeshi in English.  Takeshi never let a passenger know he could speak Japanese until the end.  It was a tactic to determine if either the agent or passenger was lying.

            The man handed him the documents.

            The ladies always translated.

“What is the purpose of your trip?” asked Takeshi.  He saw that the man was not a diplomat; he never messed with diplomats.

            “Kanko, a visit for two weeks,” replied the man in Japanese.

            “Will you be doing any work for compensation?” asked Takeshi in English.

            “Absolutely not,” said the man through Kimiko, one of the airline staff.

            Takeshi pulled aside Kimiko.  “How many more bags does he have?” Takeshi asked.

            “Eight,” said Kimiko.  “Please Tak, every time you go on your rampage, we have to stay late to do more paper work.”

            A two-week Kanko my ass, thought Takeshi.  “Please get your bags and go to immigration secondary,” Takeshi said to the man in English.  “The ladies will show you where.  I’ll personally handle your case,”

            “Thank you,” said the man and slightly bowed.

            Takeshi saw the agents carrying an additional eight oversized suitcases.  They had to make two trips. 

            I have no other choice but to go over your head!” yelled Oyama to Takeshi.

            “I’m his superior and agree with him,” said Port Director Mary Sanchez,

entering the room.  She had earlier brought in Oyama into immigration secondary.

            Takeshi knew she was listening to the entire conversation.

            “I fully agree with Supervisor Tsukemoto,” said Sanchez.  “Your passenger is not admissible under the Visa Waiver Program.  The waiver is only for a casual visitor or to attend a business meeting.  Not for someone coming here to assume his post.  You know that!”

            “Mr. Yamazaki is coming here for two weeks, to go house hunting, and other duties prior to bringing his family here” said Oyama.

            “Explain to me when I searched his bags, I found a round trip ticket to Vegas for three weeks after arriving here today?” asked Takeshi.  “Why did I find a rental agreement for a house in Palos Verde Estates with the occupation date today?  Why did his secretary tell me he was going start working tomorrow?  Why does he only have a one-way ticket?  You know that the Visa Waiver program requires a round trip ticket.  He needs an E, Treaty Trader, visa.  I’m also going to fine Japan Airlines for that violation.”

            “He was planning to adjust status here,” said Oyama.

            “You can’t adjust on a visa waiver,” said Sanchez.  “Cut it out!  Listen to yourself.  A person of that executive level could get an E visa in a week, a week and a half at the most.”

            “I am afraid I will have to go over your head also,” said Oyama, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief.”

            “I already informed District Director Danny Hudson who agrees with us,” said Sanchez.

            “Can you not defer his inspection or let him see an immigration judge?”  asked Oyama.

            “Visa Waiver doesn’t let anyone be deferred or see an immigration judge,” said Takeshi.  “You’re really grasping at straws.”

            “What will happen now?” asked Oyama.

            “Tonight, he’ll go to the immigration lounge and tomorrow he’ll be removed,” said Takeshi.

            “What is the immigration lounge?” asked Oyama.

            “It’s a lounge but with security personnel for people being sent back the next day,” said Takeshi.

            “It sounds like a jail!” said Oyama.

            “Without the bars,” said Takeshi.

            “A man of his position cannot stay in such a place!” yelled Oyama.  “He must stay at a five-star hotel!”

            “Not getting one,” said Takeshi.

            “We will pay for the guards!”  Oyama yelled.  “Or release him to my custody.  I give you my word, he will leave tomorrow.”

            “Mr. Oyama,” said Sanchez.  “We can’t make exceptions.”

            “Inspector Tsukemoto, you are of Japanese descent.  I understand that you know the Japanese mind.  You must know what has to be done!” said Oyama, bowing only fifteen degrees, usually used for a greeting.

            “Mr. Oyama, we can’t do anything,” said Takeshi.

            “Please wait!  I will talk to Mr. Yamazaki.”  Oyama went to a corner of immigration secondary and entered into a plexiglass room. 

            Takeshi noticed that Oyama started bowing, Saikeirei style, a bow of forty-five degrees, only used to show the most amount of respect or apology.  Any lower, it would have been kowtowing.  Takeshi noticed Yamazaki did not return the bow.

            “I have spoken with Mr. Yamazaki.  He wishes to apologize and wants it known that it is all a misunderstanding.”

            Yamazaki was led in front of Takeshi and Sanchez by another inspector.

            “Please release him into my custody!” said Oyama, bowing the same fifteen degrees.  “Inspector Tsukemoto, I appeal to your Japanese heritage that you understand why I am asking you this.  Mr. Yamazaki has agreed stay at my official residence and promised me to leave tomorrow morning.  I will come with him to make sure.”

            Yamazaki did not bow like he was supposed to for an apology.  “You speak Japanese?   A third generation Japanese American, Sansei?” asked Yamazaki to Takeshi in Japanese.

            “Yes,” replied Takeshi in Japanese.

            “It is rare to see a Sansei who speaks Japanese.  Oyama told me you know the Japanese mind.  He’s wrong.  Why you’re nothing more than a descendant of a stupid loser peasant who could not make it in Japan and had to come here,” said Yamazaki.

            “Throw him into the tank!” Takeshi yelled to two inspectors.  “And slam that metal door hard!” 

            Oyama sat down, breathing heavy.

            “Yamazaki got to you, didn’t he?  Never even heard you raise your voice before,” said Sanchez.

            “For the first time in my career, I wanted to wipe the smirk off a passenger’s face,” Takeshi said to Sanchez.

            “Mr. Oyama,” said Sanchez.  “Why are you so obsessed about helping Yamazaki?  If he were another diplomat, I would understand.  He nothing more than an arrogant person who thinks he can do and say whatever he wants.”

            “His future decisions will only enhance Japan’s economy and world reputation,” said Oyama.

            “You haven’t answered my question,” said Sanchez.

“You would not understand, but Inspector Tsukemoto does.  Ask him for an explanation.”  Oyama left.

            “What did Oyama say that you understand?” asked Sanchez.

            “From what I know, it goes back to the feudal period caste system.  A peasant like me doesn’t tell a person of great power like Yamazaki what he can and can’t do.  Something like that.  I don’t even know anything more than that, but it does exist.”

            “But your grandfather and before were peasants, not you,” said Sanchez.

            “Hell, that doesn’t matter to him,” replied Takeshi.

            “Would Oyama or Yamazaki be saying the same things to you if you were a regular Sansei who didn’t know the language or culture?” asked Sanchez.

            “Nope,” said Takeshi.

            “I thought us Hispanics had some weird hang ups, but you Asians take the cake.  You really understand that shit?” asked Sanchez.

            “That’s my problem,” said Takeshi.  “I do but don’t know why.  That’s nothing, there’s even weirder stuff.”  He documented the event into his private log, in detail, as he always did after a confrontational inspection.

            Later that afternoon, Takeshi received a phone call from Deputy Chief Inspector Warren McBroom from headquarters.

            “Are you the inspector who handled the Yamazaki case?” asked McBroom.

            “Yes, I am,” said Takeshi. 

            “I believe that there was a misunderstanding.  Mr. Yamazaki is here for a business meeting and leaving for Japan in two weeks to get the E visa,” said McBroom.

            “Sir, there wasn’t a misunderstanding,” said Takeshi.  He saw Sanchez and waived her over.  “Shouldn’t you be going through my chain of command?” asked Takeshi.  Takeshi then told McBroom about the case.

            “I don’t think it’s necessary for such formalities, it’s such a simple matter,” said McBroom.

            “Sir, I don’t agree.  And I would feel more comfortable if you went through my chain,” said Takeshi.

            “I don’t need to go through your chain!” yelled McBroom.  “Just parole him in!”

            Takeshi started repeating what McBroom said to Sanchez.  “Sir, under what section of parole?  It isn’t a humanitarian or significant public benefit parole.”

            “Just make it a parole to depart foreign!” yelled McBroom.

            “There’s no such thing,” said Takeshi.

            “Then as a significant public parole!” yelled McBroom.

            “Sir, it also doesn’t fall under that category,” said Takeshi.

            “He’s coming to assist commerce between Japan and the United States,” said McBroom

            “Sir, there’s nothing like that in the regulations,” said Takeshi.

            “I’m ordering you!” yelled McBroom.          

            “I’ll do it if you put it in writing as your order on agency letterhead.  I don’t want something illegal to come back later and bite my ass.”

            Sanchez took the phone.  “Deputy Chief McBroom, this is Port Director Mary

Sanchez, we’ve met a few times.  In this case, I support my inspector.  You will have to provide the order in writing on INS letterhead, citing that section of the law.  I can’t make an exception for one person based on his social position.  I will not set a precedent!”

            Sanchez gave the phone back to Takeshi.  “He hung up.”

“Wow, he’s doing overtime.  It’s nine at night in Washington,” said Takeshi and documented the call in his log.

            Takeshi wasn’t supposed to report until noon the next day but came early just to see Yamazaki put back on the plane.  He never did that before.  At approximately eight o’clock, four detention officers escorted Yamazaki into the tank.  Yamazaki had a spit hood over his head, handcuffed behind his back, and leg shackles.  “What’s with all the iron,” Takeshi asked a detention officer.

            “He took a swing and tried to kick us twice last night,” said the detention officer.

            “He also started spitting at us this morning,” said another officer.

            “We had to put him in isolation for his own protection when he started screaming he shouldn’t have to stay in a room with stinky Mexicans.  He speaks fluent Spanish,” said a third officer.

            Oyama came an hour later.  Oyama only did a greeting bow, about fifteen degrees to Sanchez and Takeshi. 

            “Mr. Oyama,” said Sanchez.  “Tell Yamazaki to behave himself.  If he doesn’t, two deportation officers with escort him back to Japan, under sedation.  That process will take two to three more days sitting with stinky Mexicans, like me.  Is that clear?”

            “Yes.  Please let Mr. Yamazaki out of the cell.”  Oyama greeted Yamazaki with another Saikeirei bow and spoke to him.  “Please take off the hood and chains.”

            “Hood, yes,” a detention officer said.  “Chains, not until he’s in his seat.”

            “He cannot be seen like this,” said Oyama.

            “He should’ve thought about that last night,” said the same detention officer.

            Yamazaki was led to the plane, into first class.  The flight attendants and pilots lined up and did Saikeirei bows as he passed. 

            “Get on your knees so I can remove the leg chains,” said one of the detention officers.

            “Why?” asked Oyama.

            “I will never bow to you or that stupid Sansei over there!” yelled Yamazaki.

            “It’s standard operation procedure.  It’s for your safety and ours.  How do I know that you’re not going to try to kick me again?” asked the detention officer.

            “Please!  No!” screamed Oyama.  “He will not do that, please!”

            “Are you going to kneel down?” asked the detention officer to Yamazaki.
            Yamazaki did not answer.

The detention officer grabbed the leg chains and pulled them up.  Yamazaki fell to his knees.

            Oyama was wiping tears off his face.  The Japan Airlines staff left, all shaking their heads.

            “You wanted to do it the hard way,” said the detention officer, removing the chains.  Will you be a good boy and not do anything when I remove your handcuffs?” asked the detention officer. 

            Takeshi walked over and stood over the back of the still kneeling Yamazaki.  “I’m tired of your shit!  You’re in my house now, so get with the program!  Understand!” yelled Takeshi.  He felt Sanchez tugging at his shirt.

            “He will not do anything, I promise you!” yelled Oyama.

            “Need to hear it from him, not you,” said the detention officer.

            Oyama asked Yamazaki to cooperate.  “Yes,” said Yamazaki.

            Takeshi, Sanchez, and the detention officers stayed in the jetway until the plane backed up and headed to the runway.

“Don’t do that kind of shit again!” said Sanchez to Takeshi.

Takeshi went back to immigration secondary and logged the incident. 


Takeshi first met Asao Saegusa, the Consul General of Japan prior to Oyama, soon after he started as an inspector.  Takeshi was told to go to the downtown detention center to translate for a Japanese national who was selling cocaine.  Inside the deportation supervisor’s office, he saw an older man.  Takeshi knew he was from the Japanese Consulate’s office since he had on a Japanese flag lapel pin.  Takeshi immediately took out a business card from his wallet.  The deportation supervisor introduced Takeshi to the man.

            Takeshi offered his card with his right hand and held it by the top corner so as not to cover any names or logos.  Then, Takeshi did a Keirei bow, a respect bow where one bows thirty degrees.   “My name is Takeshi Tsukemoto, an inspector with United States Immigration.  Sir, a pleasure and honor to meet you,” he said in Japanese and bowed.  Takeshi accepted his card with both hands and held them at a low position, bowed again, and thanked them.  He then placed their cards carefully in his card holder.  Takeshi looked at Asao’s card and saw he was the consul general.  To have a consul general come here was a rarity.

            “I am Consul General of Japan, Asao Saegusa.  It is nice to have an officer who understands the Japanese mind and language.  I wish to establish a closer relationship with your organization to assist each other,” said Asao and bowed, Keirei.

            Takeshi returned the bow.     

            “I understand your detainee, Mahiro Kaneko, was convicted of selling cocaine.  Please, take us to him,” said Asao.

            Takeshi took them to a table outside the cell where Kaneko was placed and asked detention officers to bring him out.

            Asao introduced himself.

            “Help,” said Kaneko.  “Get me out of here!”

            “You are a disgrace!” yelled Asao.  “You are a disgrace to yourself, your family, and the Japanese people!  You are a criminal!  I am sure you told your parents you were a student here, but you are not. You are here messing around and using their savings!  When I get back to my office, I’m going to call your parents and tell them what you have been really doing here.  Then I am calling your neighborhood police station and tell them the same!  Everyone will know what kind of disgrace you are!  Your parents will become social outcasts and will not be able to face others, and your siblings will not be able to marry into proper Japanese families!   When you get back to Japan, do the honorable thing and stick a knife in your belly or jump off a building!” 

            It was about three minutes later when Kaneko started sobbing.

            Takeshi looked at Asao.  Wow! Thought Takeshi.  He had never seen a consular officer do anything like that. 

            “And the worst part is this loser Sansei is deporting you!” said Asao, pointing to Takeshi.

After Kaneko was put back into cell, Takeshi asked Asao, “What did you mean about me being a loser Sansei?”

            “Just another tool to get them to feel worse.” said Asao.  “It works every time.  Shall we have lunch next week?”

            Takeshi didn’t know what to think.

Takeshi and Asao worked together several times after that initial meeting.  Asao would come to the detention office or the airport.  Asao would have the Japanese nationals sobbing within five minutes. 

Takeshi was fascinated with the knowledge Asao had.  He met with Asao at least twice a month in Little Tokyo on his days off for lunches or at Asao’s official residence in Hancock Park for dinners.  At first, the conversations mainly were about work.  Over time, the conversations began to be about personal matters.  Asao would talk about his Navy days or about Japanese history, and taught Takeshi how certain Japanese practices came to be.  Takeshi finally understood about certain Japanese thoughts and practices that he could not explain prior.

He retired as a captain from the Japanese Imperial Navy after twenty-five years, then twenty years with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He then became the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Southern California.


Two days later after the incident with Yamazaki, Takeshi made an arraignment to go to Asao’s house at night.  “I’m sure you heard about what happened a few days ago?”

“Of course.  Oyama called me that afternoon and asked me to intervene since he had heard we were good friends.” said Asao.  “Of course, I did not.”

“Did Oyama say a lot of bad things about me?” asked Takeshi.

“Nothing derogatory about you, personally, but he said that you purposely ignored your Japanese identity and did not act like a proper Japanese,” said Asao.

“But I’m not Japanese,” said Takeshi.

“The Japanese mind and blood run deep and never go away,” said Asao.

“I didn’t do anything wrong, but it still bothers me.  Did I do something wrong?” Takeshi asked Asao.

“No, not as an American,” said Asao.  “But as a Sansei who knows the Japanese mind, Oyama and Yamazaki thought the situation could have been handled better. You did not give him the opportunity to save face.”

“Like how?” asked Takeshi.  “I never understood this Japanese saving face stuff,”

“You could have had him promise you that he would leave in two weeks and come back with an E visa.  Or perhaps released him to Oyama’s custody with the condition he would leave the next day,” said Asao.  “You have to understand that people in Yamazaki’s position consider themselves superiors over others, especially a Sansei who knows the Japanese mind.  He expected you would know that and treat him accordingly to his social level.  I know it was not intentional, but you totally humiliated him and Oyama.  That would not be tolerated in Japanese society.”

“I couldn’t release him,” said Takeshi.  “I don’t understand this.”

“Yes, you do.  That’s why you’re here talking to me now.  One side of you is saying yes, and the other side is saying no.  Quit denying the Japanese side of you, what you know is a blessing.  Use that blessing to your advantage.  In the Navy, I had to learn how my enemies thought and used it to my advantage.  Use what you know.  Think like them, and you will never lose.”

“How could I lose on what happened the other day? Asked Takeshi.

“People like Yamazaki are politicians.  They will try to destroy you,” said Asao.  “Never forget that!”

“How could he?  I’m here, and he’s there,” said Takeshi.

“Because he has connections.  They expected you to use your connections to bring about more favorable outcome rather than Yamazaki going to jail.  Business in Japan is mainly done by connections.  Don’t under estimate him.  I know he has connections here,” said Asao.  “Oyama was calling every one of his connections in Washington.  Even asked for mine.”

Takeshi now understood why McBroom called him.

“Oyama is thinking about filing a complaint about you,” said Asao.

“For what!” asked Takeshi.

“Misconduct and abuse of power,” said Asao. 

“That never happened!” said Takeshi.  “Those are all lies, and they know that.”

“It does not matter to them.  Like politicians anywhere, they lie.  In the military you get only so far by lying, but Yamazaki is not a soldier, but a politician with a lot of charisma, unlike me.  You need to cover your back when you deal with people like Yamazaki.  You know the Japanese can be vicious, start admitting and using that knowledge to your advantage!  Detect them and make plans to protect yourself.  You already have that ability!  You will only encounter more like him and most probably will be more powerful,” said Asao. 


Asao was to be the Japanese ambassador to the United States.  Asao’s mentee of eight years, Morio Shibata, started telling the prime minister that Asao was a drunkard, prone to yelling, screaming, and throwing objects at his subordinates.  Not worthy of such a sensitive position.  Thus, Shibata became the Japanese ambassador to the United States.  Asao said he failed to detect that Shibata was not a diplomat but really a charismatic politician.  He did not even get second prize, the consul general of New York, but the third prize of consul general of Los Angeles.  Asao told Takeshi that he did not utilize his military training and failed to detect his enemy and what the enemy could do.  Not worthy of an officer, for that is why soldiers die, said Asao.  Having to Saikeirei bow and report to him was not the humiliation but having failed in his duty as a soldier was.


Two years after Asao went back to Japan, Akiko Saegusa, Asao’s wife, called Takeshi.  She said Asao was in poor health and that Asao wanted to see him one last time.  For the first time in his adult life, Takeshi went back to Japan.  It was too late, Asao passed away the while he was enroute.

The Shinto ceremony was held at the Meiji shrine, one of the most important shrines in Japan, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.  Takeshi stood outside the temple with hundreds of others listening to the chantings by the monks over the public address system.  All the government officials wore their black morning coats with tails performed Saideirei bows as they entered the shrine.  There was Shibata, pretending to cry. 

Takeshi stood in front of the temple after everyone left.  Akiko called for Takeshi to come into the temple.  Takeshi did Saikeirei bows in front of Asao’s urn and Akiko.

Akiko presented a maroon colored velvet rectangular case with a gold braid around it to Takeshi.  “This is for you,” said Akiko.

Takeshi undid the braid.  It was a certificate in a glass frame.  Takeshi immediately knew it was from the imperial household, for it was embossed with the gold seal of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

“This is yours,” said Akiko.  “It is the Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun.  It was presented to Asao personally by the Emperor last year.”

“Akiko, I can’t accept this,” said Takeshi.  “It belongs in your family.”

“Asao did not think anyone in our family was worthy of having this.  He specifically told me to give it to you since you deserve it,” said Akiko.

Takeshi started to cry.  “Thank you.” He bowed to her, Saikeirei.


Three weeks after Takeshi removed Yamazaki, Sanchez asked him to come to her office.  Inside was District Director Hudson.

“Tak,” said Hudson.  “You’re a damn good inspector, probably too good.  Because of the respect Sanchez and I have for you, we’re telling you personally that Yamazaki is coming back today.”

“What!” Takeshi yelled.

“He’s coming in with an E visa.  He applied for a waiver for being denied and received one,” said Sanchez.

“What idiot granted him one!” said Takeshi.  “Didn’t the consular officer get my report?  I sent it to him that afternoon!  I’m going to stop Yamazaki again and call that consular officer and demand an answer!”

            “You will not!  Calling him will only makes things worse.  According to the embassy, Yamazaki stated that you yelled and screamed at him.  You purposely humiliated him since he was a successful Japanese business man and mistreated him because you were jealous that you couldn’t be like him.  He also said that you stood over him and forced him to kneel,” said Hudson. 

“That’s not true,” Takeshi said.  “Mary saw the entire thing.”

 “I know that, but headquarters kept calling me after you sent him back, even at night.  In the meantime, over thirty members of Congress called,” said Hudson.  “They said it’s not like Yamazaki is a terrorist, so why are we picking on a guy who might expand trade.  That’s what eleven Congressmen said.  Look, even for me, I can’t take the heat, I’ve got to get out of the kitchen.  I’m sorry.”

“I also ordering you to leave the premises until noon.  I know what kind of person you are, and what you might try to do.  Inspectors Martinez and Burns will meet him at the gate and will expedite him, with Oyama.  And I don’t what to hear you just happened to meet them outside the terminal.  Understand!” said Sanchez.

“Yes.  I just don’t understand why a liar is being given first class treatment,” said Takeshi.

            “Don’t try to understand it,” said Hudson.  “If you try, this job will eat you alive.  Everyone knows that you’re going to be the next second line supervisor and the youngest, so don’t do anything stupid to blow it like calling the embassy!”

            “Thank you,” said Takeshi to Hudson and Sanchez.  He left the airport.

            That evening, Takeshi sat on his bed, holding Asao’s certificate across his chest.  “Asao, we were wrong,” said Takeshi.  “I’m not blessed; I’m cursed, a curse that can’t and won’t ever be lifted.”  Takeshi felt the same humiliation as Asao; Takeshi had also failed to detect an enemy, an enemy he was capable of detecting.  He will never make the same mistake again, thought Takeshi.

            Two days later, Kimiko brought over a young Japanese girl to immigration secondary.  Takeshi noticed her F student visas for California State University Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community College, and Don Martin School of English were cancelled.  However, she did have a B-2 visitor visa, good for tourism for a six-month stay used to enter the United States five months and twenty days ago.  She wanted another six months.

            “Kimiko, she isn’t even your passenger.  Why are you helping her?” asked Takeshi.

            “She was sitting on the bench outside in tears for being sent to secondary.  I felt sorry for her.  Trying to help her,” said Kimiko.

            “Where are going for another six months?” asked Takeshi in English.

            “No English,” she replied.

            “You’re pretty stupid!  Haven’t had enough Disneyland?” asked Takeshi in English. “Been here all this time and still ‘no English.’  I can’t give you six months.  You’re just trying to scam.  You just came in from Mexico, a contiguous country.  You only get the time remaining from your original entry nearly six months ago.  I’m going to defer your inspection, in custody, so downtown can issue you a Maintain Status and Departure Bond.”

            “What that?” the girl asked.

            “Someone has to put down a lot of money to make sure you leave,” said Takeshi in English.

            “You son of a bitch!  You asshole!” she said in fluent English.  “My boyfriend is a powerful executive with a big aerospace company that does work with high government officials!  He knows lots of people.  He’ll get your ass!  He has connections!”

            Connections and powerful, thought Takeshi.  “Connections!  I’m sure your boyfriend has a pot belly, balding, and probably thirty years older than you. He isn’t going to have any connections when his wife finds out about you!” said Takeshi in Japanese.

            “You wouldn’t dare!” she said.

            “You’re a disgrace!  I know how Japanese girls like you operate.  You’re going to extort him to get the money, or you’re going to tell his wife!” yelled Takeshi in Japanese. “Hell, you’re probably extorting him now.  In fact, I’ve changed my mind and set you up for a formal deportation so you can’t come back for at least twenty years.  Also, skip the crying part.  You’re a disgrace to yourself, your family, and the Japanese people!”

            “Can’t you just remove her.  A deportation will ruin her life!” yelled Kimiko.  “You’re worse than before!  Why are you doing this?”

            “I’m only protecting myself,” said Takeshi to Kimiko.  For the first time in his career, Takeshi felt remorse for what he was doing.  His intent was never to ruin peoples’ lives but only to enforce the laws.  But Asao taught him what he had to do.  

Bruce Kamei is a retired US immigration special agent (enforcement branch).  During his twenty-five years, he experienced and dealt with horrific situations unimageable by most.  His stories are about the untold and need to be told; stories rarely told in the mainstream media.  Prior to becoming a Migra, he received his MFA from Wichita State University.