Last week I assisted a public defender in securing the freedom of a man who spent 14 months incarcerated without a trial. This man also had an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer (or hold) that had recently lapsed. Had it not been for our intervention, he may still be detained in the jail or an immigration detention center without due process.
Accompanied by Jane & Vern Goering, our current volunteers, we went to the jail to plead for the Oscar’s* release. Upon his liberation, we all embraced and then joyfully yet quickly escorted Oscar off the premises in the now moth-eaten clothes that he initially entered the jail wearing in back in late 2012.
Between his cries of “alleluia” and words of thanks, Oscar soberly reflected on all that had been taken from him – his liberty, his dignity, his home, his job, his possessions. He is angry at what he describes as a miscarriage of justice and the denial of a swift trial, but that day he was also exceedingly glad to finally be free!
I asked him where he’d like to go for a culinary taste of freedom and this once slightly overweight man, now thin from the low-calorie jail diet, said he wanted fast food and a soft drink. That was an easy wish to grant.
After consuming his comfort food, I took him to the home of an American family who had befriended him years earlier. As soon as we into the dirt and gravel parking spot of this trailer home, Oscar was greeted by children who immediately recognized him and were filled with joy and surprise just to see him. Remembering Oscar, the children repeatedly shouted out his name, ran to him, and, like angels’ wings, covered him in tiny hugs of great love.
To paraphrase the Lord as he spoke to the prophet Joel, “I will repay you for the 14 MONTHS that the swarming MOTH has eaten…” (Joel 2:25)
*To protect his identity, the man’s name has been changed.