Thursday, November 30, 2017

Just to say ..
I have talked to one refugee help organization and legal expert after another, and no one can give me an answer as to how to help the woman who had to falsify her Nigerian passport to avoid danger to her person and to get to the boat/raft that she came over to Italy on in 2012. The law says that she needs a valid passport from her home country from which she was escaping, otherwise she cannot renew her stay permit. This means after five years of residency here, she would lose all legitimacy and will be in danger of being arrested and possibly deported or being deprived of the ability to integrate, rent an apartment, or hold a job in Italy. Things are very bad in Libya right now, according to my friend Gabriella’s contacts at the U.N. They told her that this is not the time to try to get help from the Italian government because they are working to keep Africans from leaving Libya for Italy at all costs, and the conditions in Libya are horrific.

Am I alone in thinking that this is madness? If a person risks their life to escape a country, how can it be legal to make them have to return to face even more danger just to get a passport number for a bureaucratic form that needs to be filed at the police station?

My last call to OIM, Organizzazione Internazionale per le Migrazioni, led to the same conclusion; but the person I spoke to said she would try to refer me to an international lawyer.

Maybe the message that the woman received at the police station which was that you can only renew the Italian titolo di viaggio three times is false. Sometimes refugees are spoken to in a very dismissive way at the police station, and sometimes they are given discouraging messages to keep them from renewing their documents. If the titolo di viaggio is equal to a passport and if she applies for a new one in time, thus sliding under the radar a little bit, maybe she can be lucky and safe.

Plot twist: The Caritas lawyers who used to help us and had promised to send us copies of the kits that they filled out for permesso renewals in the past threw out the papers somehow. So as to not leave us in the lurch, they have kindly offered to help us again this year. I took advantage of this email chain to ask them what they know about the titolo di viaggio situation, but I am not holding my breath. I guess I have a guardian angel. Gabriella asked if she should prepare the Italian arance/oranges with a key in them to break me out of prison, which is where she is sure I am going to end up. I also asked for help from my student who is a law professor and a judge. She is trying to get me a contact who specializes in international law. I feel like if this situation got settled, I could sleep well for the first time in two years.

Emmanuel just called to see how I was. Sweet! As I tried to explain to Gabriella, no one is taking advantage of me because I love my group not because they are my group, but because of who they are as people.

Then Emmanuel called me three more times, after he called his lawyer ten times, in a total panic, wanting to present himself to the police to inquire about his case - which is a really bad idea. No news is good news for him right now. So I called Tina and Job and asked them to invite him to dinner and get his head straight. Last time he was in this mood, he left all his documents on the train. 

No comments: