Monday, February 13, 2006

National disgrace

I was glad to see that Ed had an update on this immigration case in today's Gazette. I wrote about this case in 2001, as part of a series of pieces on abuses by immigration authorities in Montana. The fascinating part was the admission by what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service that it had erred initially in allowing Mr. Zirotti a visa. Then, after allowing him up to uproot his family and move to America, devoting himself to building a risky and irreplaceable business, the INS decided to correct its error and send him back overseas.

Money quote, from INS attorney Ann Tanke: "If you're not very familiar with our administrative process that may seem horrible." No kidding.

Most of what I wrote proceeded from my pursuit of the Wolfgang von Eitzen case. There are too many stories about that to link them all, but this may serve as a summary. I still hear from von Eitzen now and again, and he is still fighting from Germany. He will never win.

I thought his case was about as clear-cut an instance of American injustice as I have ever encountered. Longtime resident, American family, straightforward in his INS dealings. Some people say, well, the law's the law, but that isn't true. At the time von Eitzen was deported, INS rules specifically allowed authorities to overlook technical violations in the interest of simple justice to people who had deep roots in the United States and who had tried to jump through all the hoops.

As in the case Ed described in the Gazette, the government's conduct was loathsome and inexcusable. Congress' bipartisan failure to fix the problem is a disgrace.


Eric Coobs said...

I was wondering what happened to him. How about a follow-up story?
Is he critical of the schools there? What happened with the house they were building here? Will he have to wait 10 years before returning?

David said...

I don't think he will ever get back. After his wife died, his assets became tied up in probate and divorce proceedings. He contends that he has been treated unfairly by local officials, but I can't figure out whether that's true.

I haven't asked him about schools there. He is a profoundly unhappy man, essentially torn apart by U.S. bureaucrats' finagling.

Anonymous said...

"He contends that he has been treated unfairly by local officials, but I can't figure out whether that's true."

Are you refering to Wolfgang or Mike Erickson?

Anonymous said...

Its a bit ironic that the daily is defending the people who own Enzo's but never defended Wolfgang.

David said...

Anonymous 901, The sad thing to is how few people of any stripe, let alone the Gazette, were willing to stand up for Wolfgang. Liberals wouldn't do it because Wolfgang is a hardcore conservative. Conservatives wouldn't do it because they don't like immigration anyway.

Only a small handful of friends stood by him. It was a shame.

Randy said...

Anonymous 137: What's the reason for the Erickson cheap shot? What do the Zirotti and von Eitzen cases have to do with Mike?

You need to get over your petty grudge and move on with your life. Enough is enough DM.