Showing posts with label Harvard Law School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harvard Law School. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Immigration: Exploring Non Legal Options

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
To: Congressman Crowley
From: Paramendra Bhagat (Elmhurst, Queens 11373-2713)
Date: December 22, 2014
Subject: My Ongoing For Six Years Open Immigration Case (Alien 095 156 466)

Hello Congressman. I live in your district. My name is Paramendra Bhagat. I came to America for college in 1996 and have not left the country since. I married my college girlfriend (she proposed), officially the smartest student at my school, the number one liberal arts college in the South, Berea College. I got a green card from that. My marriage ended a few years later.

I was the only Nepali among 300,000 Nepalis across America to have worked full time for Nepal’s democracy movement in the 2005-06 period. ( I also got myself elected student body president at Berea within six months of landing as an international student, first time in college history a freshman had done that. In 2007 I also became the first full time volunteer in New York City to presidential candidate Barack Obama. ( I personally know people like Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from before he went to Albany.

While working days, nights and weekends for the democracy movement in Nepal, the deadline for my green card renewal came and went, and I did not even notice. I was so into my work.

I have had an open immigration case since 2008. I have showed up in court every few months, as asked. That has gone on for six years now. I like to joke my trial has now lasted longer than Nelson Mandela’s! My Harvard Law School graduate lawyer Rudrakumaran Visuvanathan has represented me. Nepal is still going through its political transition, and it would be a major safety issue for me to show up there right now. But I have not been able to convince the court, I guess. And I am getting hints I am about to lose my case.

You would do me the favor of a lifetime if you could please intervene and help me out. It is my knowledge that Senators and Congressmen can legitimately intervene in cases like mine and make things happen. If it is within your powers, please help me back renew my green card that I had. If you could do that, enough time has passed that I would be in a position to apply for my citizenship by now. And if I could get there, I could vote for the first time. I would sure vote for you! And much more.

Like I said, you would be doing the favor of a lifetime to me. I am an early stage tech entrepreneur. My team is working on an Augmented Reality Mobile Game that we think is a billion dollar idea. ( We are building a super social network. My goal is to use and build, build and use digital tools so as to do all I can do to help cure global poverty.

With much hope.
Paramendra Bhagat.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A Statement For My Next Immigration Court Date

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Prosecutorial Discretion For Me
A Statement For My Next Immigration Court Date
Paramendra Bhagat
March 3, 2014

There were racist people at the college in Kentucky where I was at who thought I would go to Harvard Law School. They obviously had no clue. This was after I had been part of an exciting tech startup. In short, the legal process I see as red tape. It is beyond me. So I am glad I have a lawyer. Because the whole thing is beyond me. It tries my patience every step of the way.

After they nabbed Nelson Mandela, his process also went on for five years. You have been playing cat and mouse with me for years now. I hope you don’t send me downhill like they sent Nelson Mandela. Frankly I don’t think too highly of this country. I see the huge limitations of this country as clearly as I see garbage in New York City. But I guess I do need a physical country, and this country is the only option I have for now. When I have more resources I might build up a tech team also on St. Lucia, but let me not get ahead of myself. I already have a tech team in Portugal. We are going to build something bigger than Angry Birds. And you are standing in the way right now. It blows my mind that you would be. This country gives someone a green card for a half million dollar investment. And I have started work on a billion dollar idea. Give me 2,000 green cards. Easy arithmetic.

US immigration is easily the most humiliating experience I have gone through in my life. I have been a free spirit. Because that is where the cutting edge thoughts come from. I have made major career sacrifices at various periods of my life when I could hardly afford to to remain a free spirit. And you put me through what you put me through. I was born in Bihar, politics in India is rough, but nowhere rougher than in Bihar. The machine in this city is not going to play cat and mouse games with me. But that is political, and beyond the jurisdiction of this case and this court.

Before 2008 I had a photographic memory. Your mind tries to forget the painful. My mind in trying to suppress the six months in 2008 has also messed up other parts of my past. My memory has no longer been photographic after 2008. You don’t put a free spirit behind bars.

There is the pragmatic and then there is the indignant. So my record shows two blips on the screen. The NYC agents give me a clean record, do they? As if nothing happened in 2008. No, something really big happened in 2008. It might not be on my records, but all details are at my blogs. Some day somebody is going to make a movie called Slumdog Billionaire. The kids in the movie Slumdog Millionaire are all from my birth state of Bihar. That kid was also thrown behind bars by the powers that be. When they took me to Rikers Island in 2008 in the same dorm they threw this Punjabi guy, a Senior. He still had bruises from having been beaten up. His mugshot was all bruises. But the guy who had beat him up was American, and this small, thin, old Indian guy was out of status. So they nabbed him instead of the young, big American guy who beat him up. If you are not American, you don’t have human rights. It is like, they never read me my Miranda rights in 2008. I was not a US citizen. They said I had violated the court order. No, I had not made contact with the said person. I had emailed two people who I had met hundreds of times over the prior years, one of them is now an enemy. But the machine did not care. When you make disappear Barack Obama’s first full time volunteer in New York City on the precise day Hillary loses her primary fight, I have to admit, it is poetic. But all that is political and beyond the jurisdiction of this case and this court.

When you had me inside, I saw almost all your prisoners were black and Hispanic, and almost all your guards were white. That is as concrete as racism gets. Putting one black man in the White House does not change that. That is a special man, but he is only one man in an office with huge limitations to power. Tectonic societal change takes more than putting one man in one office. I guess.

My immigration lawyer is Tamil. I grew up Indian in Nepal. He grew up Indian in Sri Lanka. I identify with the blacks in America because I grew up Indian in Nepal. I have some idea of what it means to be Tamil in Sri Lanka. How can the most literate country in South Asia be so wrong? Is there a non violent way? Could international law give genuine federalism to the Tamils in Sri Lanka?

I guess racism in America is not all that bad, comparatively speaking. Tamils in Sri Lanka have it much worse. But the number one country on the planet does not have the luxury of that logic. What is wrong is wrong. What is bad is bad. What is broken is broken.

Let’s not get into the narrative business. Let’s not suggest they put me through what they put me through in 2008 because two blips showed up on their screens. That is not accurate.

If two blips are showing up on your screen, let me explain.

Blip number 1. This white girl who I handpicked to the number three position in the student government I was leading after having had myself elected student body president at the number one liberal arts college in the Bible Belt South as a freshman breaking all records in college history, she had had a lousy childhood, I did not know. She had run away from home. That bad. People like that are more likely to engage in things like racist demonization. But then college administrators who participated in the same had not had lousy childhoods, or none that they admitted to. This girl came to the forefront of a racist demonization cottage industry one of whose highlights was an article in the college newspaper where I was a rapist in an incident where the girl in question was more offended than I was. If I was a rapist, Bill Clinton had murdered Vince Foster. I get the politics part of it. But the racism part of the experience you might not get. A phone conversation with the lousy childhood white girl where she went berserk and called me all those names all over again. My follow up emails where I was saying things like how can there be rape without sex, or if there was rape, how come the girl in question was more offended than I was, well those emails became raw material for a harassing communication charge in the local court, where the elected judge told me he owes his taxpayers to not give me a lawyer, and “your silence tells me you are guilty.” The pragmatic thing to do is to get a lawyer and get it off my records, and I will do that. It has to be noted though that the only wrong I was accused of by the racist establishment was emails.

Blip number 2. A month after 9/11 I got into a 18 wheeler and I did not get off the road until I had been all over the 48 states. The period lasted on and off for about two years. I call it my Peace Corps experience. You can only drive for 10 hours. Then you have to take an eight hour break. It is a good law. It keeps tired truckers off the road. A 80,000 pound truck moving at 70 miles an hour is a missile. I was nearing 9 hours 45 minutes. I had already figured out the Rest Area where I’d get off and park for the night. This was in northern Texas. This was in the middle of nowhere. You quite literally did not see a single light anywhere on the horizon. So I get off. By now my truck is moving at five miles per hour. Well, it ends up there was not a single empty parking slot. So I had no option but to go back on the interstate highway and get off at the first exist and park on the side road’s shoulder for the night, something I had done many, many times before. You go for Rest Areas and trucks stops, when you can’t, you park on the shoulder of a side road. After I parked I saw ambulance lights in my mirror. The ambulance was not moving. I am like, oh no, looks like I have parked in a way that an ambulance behind me can’t get past me. As soon as I released the brakes, before I moved the truck, I heard loud thumps on my trailer. It was as if there were people beating on my trailer saying, stop, stop, stop. So I did not move. And I opened my door and proceeded to get out of my vehicle.

What had happened was at the Rest Area my truck had gently sideswiped another truck and in the process had slightly damaged one of its headlights. That truck was parked, my truck was moving at five miles per hour. There were no human injuries involved. Even the damage was very minor. Trucks have company insurance, no big deal. That trucker had called 911 and had proceeded to follow me. That was not an ambulance I saw but a whole bunch of police cars. Those were not thumps but a ton of police officers emptying their guns into my truck that was not moving. They took out all the tires.

I had legal insurance at the time through Pre-Paid Legal. My lawyer said, they will try to get you to accept blame, do not do anything like that. Let us handle it. I took the advice. They wrote me  a speeding ticket. I was not speeding. Trucks are designed in a way that you can’t speed even if you want to. I could not get my truck past 68 miles per hour. That is how it had been engineered. When they had me inside for the night in my cell was a Mexican guy, local, who said they nabbed him every month on false drug charges and released him the following day. He did not do drugs, he did not sell drugs. But it made the cops look like they were doing something. It was racial harassment. Those brain dead, stupid motherfuckers. You can do that in Texas. Heck, you can do that in New York City if you want to.

I was out on bail. My bail company had me call in once a week, which I routinely did for years. I had a lawyer. But there was no court date anywhere in sight. After a few years I guess I stopped calling. I felt it had been long enough. Perhaps. I don’t know. I don’t remember. Maybe I moved to New York. Maybe that is what happened. Now you tell me there is a blip on your screen where I was found guilty of hit and run. The phrase makes it sound like I ran over a human body or something. I did not even ever get to see the damaged headlight. But even if their story is true my truck moving at five miles per hour at a Rest Area gently sideswiped another truck that was parked. I did not speed. I could not have. But then this is a country where racism is not illegal, systemic racism sure isn’t. It is the system. It is what keeps the system intact, looks like. It is the air, the blood.

Again, the pragmatic thing to do is to get it off my records. And I will. I am a tech entrepreneur. I need to get to work. Please get out of my way.

You know, for a political person like me, I don’t see me ever running for public office. The digital tools might be enough work for the rest of my working life. And my impact designs are global not local in scope. Otherwise for someone like me becoming Mayor of New York City would be a a cakewalk. It would not be hard to do. Early education is all good, but where I disagree with the current Mayor is, if you want to bring down inequality you offer citywide free WiFi. The 100 biggest cities of the world should build a Consortium of Cities to go past the nation state concept. That is the solution to immigration and population and the environment.

But then such thoughts are beyond the scope of this case or this court.

Know I am a good guy, talented, hard working, with big plans, with the greater good in mind, and get me off this immigration treadmill. It has gone on for too long. If an honorary citizenship is too much to ask for, give me a green card. I already had one. Renew it. I think you can if you wanted to.

I am legal. I can legally work and live in this country right now. But my Employment Authorization Card last year was sent to an address that my lawyer says he never submitted to the immigration people. I did live there for a few temporary months between places. That house was sold to someone else last year, and it has been dismantled. And that is how I was not able to track down whoever might have received my card on my behalf. Talk about drama and government conspiracies.

It is like one day a few years back I was walking around Williamsburg taking pictures. I love this city and I like taking pictures. I have probably uploaded 15,000 pictures of NYC on my Facebook pages. And I had a Jason Bourne moment. I got to say hello to a police sniff dog. There were personnel in a vehicle. An officer with a handgun at the ready quickly turned away across a side street as I crossed a street!

Who or what do you think I am? I am tech entrepreneur without a country right now. That is who.

I guess I could say I am Indian. Culturally I am. I look the part. But it is very hard for someone of my political built to identify intimately with a country whose Supreme Court recently took a major homophobic step.

I am a man without a country. I am a Netizen. Allow me to go online. Get out of my way. 
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Clean Tech Experience

I showed up for the Clean Tech event with an open, blank mind: Reshma 2010 Clean Tech Event July 27 Tuesday. Blank because I did not know much about clean tech at all. I had a few ideas, I could say a few buzz words, I could draw a few outlines. There is a slope: tech as in internet tech, then clean tech, then bio tech, I know the least about nano tech. If the next Reshma 2010 event is going to be on bio tech, I am going to spend a good few hours doing some serious reading online. I am going to do some homework.

It was that feeling that led me to ask the question I asked.

"I showed up for this event not knowing much about clean tech at all and so this has been a wonderful experience. It is so obvious Clean Tech is going to be a major source of much needed jobs for this city, this country, this world. But those jobs will not get created if certain political decisions are not made and those decisions will not get made if the politicians don't feel the pressure and the politicians will not feel the pressure if the voters, the citizens are not actively involved in the conversation, the discussion, and debate around clean tech, and a great way to do that would be to have Reshma Saujani and Carolyn Maloney do a debate on TV exclusively about clean tech, but I don't see that happening. Why are Reshma Saujani and Carolyn Maloney not debating clean tech on TV?"

The moderator looks at me and he gives me a perplexed look for about two seconds. This guy looks Indian, but he is all hostile to Reshma. He does not seem to realize Reshma is not the reason the debate is not taking place. Someone needs to point out he is knocking on the wrong door. And so he says, "You need to take that question to Carol!"

The moderator started out saying he was Australian and that "American politics is baffling to me." If American politics is baffling to him, he should take a crack at Indian politics. JFK's ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith, well esteemed in the intellectual circles of this country, went on record about "the imponderables of Indian politics."

The panel was a huge one. It could barely fit. It was an impressive panel. The flyer had details on each company and participating organization. I wish I had an electronic version so I could publish it at this blog. I might still type it out and publish the introductory paragraphs on the various companies and organizations that participated.

Off the bat the company that most fascinated me was Bodega Algae. It is "a developer of scalable algae photobioreactors. The closed continuous-flow reactors produce high-energy algal biomass for use in the production of biofuel."

I briefly got to talk to the Bodega representative, a MIT PhD, after the formal program was over. I told her how her company stood out for me of all companies on the list. And she shared some more info. One thing she shared alarmed me. The thinking in the energy industry seems to be that big oil names like Exxon will do biofuel as well because they have the distribution infrastructure. That was alarming to me. That would be like saying Google should have happened under Microsoft and Facebook should have happened under Google. That would totally stifle innovation. The thing to do is to make Exxon share their distribution infrastructure by law.

The political highlight of the event for me though happened before the formal program began. A Sara (not real name) walked over to me while I was talking to another Reshma 2010 intern that I had met once before. She introduced me as a "huge fan of your blog." She said she was a Reshma 2010 intern.

Sara is going to be a senior at high school soon. She said she lived on "the north side of town." I hope that means Upper East Side and not Westchester. The way she presented herself made me think she alone could deliver 50 votes. When I am talking about Reshma Saujani as The New Woman (Reshma Saujani: Top 10 Women To Watch In America), I am thinking about women like Sara.

She asked me if I would do a blog post on her. I hereby pledge to do a blog post on every Reshma 2010 intern and staffer who might express interest. All you have to do is schedule to sit down with me for an hour long interview at the Reshma 2010 headquarters, and let me take a few pictures of you with the others in the room. I like to take a few different pictures and then put them together as collages. That's my style.

I asked her about college applications and where she might want to go. She said she had visited Stanford.

"Me too. It is such a pretty campus," I said.

Sara told me she looked at both the Maloney and the Reshma campaigns before deciding on the Reshma campaign as the one she wanted to intern for. That is a good sign.

Also if high school students are reading my blog, I think I need to be more careful in terms of what I put out. I did not realize. 

I have come to realize Sunday afternoons are perhaps not the best time to be making phone calls to voters. I asked Paul last Sunday and he suggested the best time might be weekdays from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

My current professional status is that I am a pro blogger. Every day is like every other day to me. I could show up on a Sunday, or a Wednesday.

I got to meet a whole bunch of people, one of them was an Ashish. He said he was a friend of Reshma. You look familiar, I said. I think I might have seen him at the last Reshma 2010 tech event. I asked about his background.


"Where in India?"


"They broke up Bihar against my wishes, but that makes you the sixth Bihari I have met in America."

"I am a Punjabi."

"I once got an email from a Punjabi who thought I was one. Paramendra can sound like Parmendar." (Bhangra, Cricket: Exotic To Me)

And Bhagat can sound like Bhagat Singh. 

"I came to America when I was nine months old."

That was one remarkable nine month old, I thought.

I aimlessly walked out after the event was over. After whiling away in Union Square I decided to walk over towards Times Square. Up on Ninth Avenue I decide to go over to Central Park. It is amazing to me how well lit all parts of Central Park can be at night. That is a Third World perspective for you. I decided to go in for a walk. I stayed by the big road. That is another Third World perspective for you. Deep inside I came across two Chinese looking guys who asked which way to Fifth Avenue.

"I have no idea where I am at right now, or I could tell you," I said. Then I spotted the two two dimensional buildings of Columbus Circle and told them which way.

Deep in thought, I missed the 14th Street stop for change of train two times. 

By the time I got home it was past midnight. My Harvard Law School graduate roomie had already called it a day. The dude shares a few other traits with Barack: he is black.

"See you soon" was Reshma's greeting to me towards the end of the event.

You bet. That might be as early as Wednesday evening.  

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