D is back at his apartment this evening. He knows that he won't have long in the US; his lawyer told him "I can represent you, but it won't make a difference; I would just be taking your money, and I don't want to do that to you." He's already talking about how happy he'll be to see his mom.
"How is he always so happy?" I asked Leo.
"To trick the sadness," was his characteristically Brazilian explanation.
D was told by ICE that they've got a new program that lets folks await deportation in relative liberty. Detainees are fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet and allowed to return home. This might not seem like a big step, but it really is; dealing with these issues for work about a year ago, I was told that the only way that ICE agrees to something like this is when there are minor children at home and no one to take care of them, etc... (which, if you're familiar with what happened in New Bedford, you know isn't even the whole truth, either). We fully expected D, as a single man with no kids, to wait out the intervening months in jail.
As he was getting fitted with the ankle bracelet, D thought that the immigration officer was cursing him out. Only after several uncomfortable minutes did he realize that the officer was exhausted and exasperated with the ankle bracelet itself. Finally, the officer straightened up and said, "I'm going to trust you. This isn't working. Do you understand me? Do you understand English? This is broken. You need to come back here tomorrow. I'm going to let you go now, but you need to promise to come back tomorrow. I don't want to arrest you again. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
I don't expect that this is part of the new policy, mind you; I think it's simply one of those inexplicable and incongruous interactions that spring from the clash of human conscience and state-sponsored persecution; sometimes in the absence of official protocol, we accidentally do the right thing. And D will go back tomorrow when they open at 9 am because he wants to do right, even by a wrong system, which I admire very much.
I am also 0.000001% more hopeful today than I was yesterday that the Obama administration is trying to make ICE a bit more humane officially -- even as they're on target to deport more immigrants than ever before. Am I that desperate? So desperate that I'll be happy with a kinder, gentler deportation? I guess it's because when you know the folks in the cogs of what everyone says is a broken machine, you just want to see them make it out the other side in one piece -- never mind the ideological questions.