tv Martine Kalaw Illegal Among Us CSPAN January 20, 2019 8:15pm-9:01pm EST
hello, everyone welcome to loyalty books thank you so much for coming out tonight. we are delighted to welcome everyone here we are looking forward to opening up a full bookstore in 2019 and in the meantime we are so grateful to you joining us for the holidays for this amazing event for illegal among us. thanks again for coming out here. we are delighted to have the white house reporter in
conversation. my name is hannah and i'm the owner and i will do a brief introduction to let you know how the event is going to go. we will enjoy a reading and then have the two women in conversation with each other and if you could make sure to speak clearly because we are being filmed and wants everyone to hear you. after that q-and-a we will conclude with a book signing we are obviously excited to have someone sharing the story also there's probably a more topical but happening now than the legal
among us and we are happy to dive into the topic of conversation. you are uniquely suited to discuss this as an advocate speaker and writer and huffington post blogger and on the struggle in america and on the title that's important to understand illegal among the saved request delete request for citizenship. it's a personal thing journey into the steps she took. joining the conversation is abby cruise a white house reporter. she'she is a graduate of the philadelphia high school for girls and university graduate and loves philadelphia and talking to the residence of the philadelphia daily news and is recently moved to dc and we are so happy to have her here. she's covering and investigating local news and as of july she's worked for the ability of
reporter i want to start off this event a little differently with my reading of the book. >> absolutely not. i'm going to read from the first chapter that i can introduce the audience to the story. the first chapter and the first subsection of the chapter is called betrayal. i also buried my memories of her mistreatment to honor her but bt one day and the law office in the once famous cover in buffalo, new york, i was asked by my attorney to portray her in order to win my freedom in the land of the free.
how audacious attempt to even suggest. this immigration hearing needed to be the final because i was running out of stamina and coping mechanisms. just how long could i maintain the charade of being a normal american girl. my pro bono lawyer had assured me everything but go smoothly. after august 9, 2004 approached. today's appointment was an actual hearing rather then a calendar appointment. it meant i would be able to testify and present my witnesses on my behalf. why don't you come into my office for a second, he commanded interrupting. what's wrong? in my office. i went. i knew him well enough by now to distinguish between his condescension and concerned. he had a plain face which offered him little distinction. the kind you could look at it for hours, but you wouldn't be able to confirm in a police
lineup. his boldness is the only thing that stood out. i could imagine running into this man who had control over my life. ten years later in the street and then trying to figure out where i knew him from. nothing is wrong. you included that your mother was abusive. a panic rushed over me. please don't let this conversation go where it was headed. he may have asked a follow-up question that my mind was out there i realized how the office looked and i wondered if it was because he didn't make enough money as a pro bono attorney.
with tears streaming down my face as if i just played guilty of leaving my sentencing. she didn't just hit me, she used to beat me that i wanted to remain my old in my accusations so i wouldn't share any more details. as he dug further should i also talk about my verbal assault. this wathisthis was and how tods supposed to play out. this entire case was supposed to be built upon the case and not my mom. my mom's real name was mary louise which sounds better in french, my mom's native language. most just called her louise like a prefect that means sister. it's used as a sign of respect when speaking to an older sister. i must have heard them referring
to her when i was a toddler and started to do the same. i never referred to her a referd all of the years she was alive. >> thank you for sharing that. and actually, i picked out my favorite section of the book and wanted to share it with audiences. it is just a quick visit on page 134 i needed life to be over with once and for all. all of those attempts were amateurs i could trust because they haven't worked in the past and i couldn't get my hands on anything legal should i hang myself i needed to figure out a way to do this so that nobody would find me for days. the reason i picked this is because a lot of times we go through tough times in our lives a lot of people fight depression and think suicide is the answer
i wrote about it because it is so taboo especially in the context of immigration is important to talk about it because i don't think enough people are. how did i stay positive on the best of days i stay positive because i thought about the fact that i've overcome so much and so if i had overcome so much, i didn't believe the rest of the story would have been o on a hay ending so that was the best of days. other days i stayed positive because i believe that if i can just get there and share my story, it would help other people. but on the worst of days i have to admit i couldn't stay positive.
it would be a little more audacious and how i presented the story when i was going through my story i was considered illegal. for me i wanted to reclaim this term used against me so that it doesn't have the same power people are trying to make it. and last, again undocumented is a better term because no human is illegal but the people we are trying to influence in the conversation quite honestly they are still using the term illegal
so that is the reason why. in terms of, you know, immigration right now there are so many facets of it. there is what's going on at the borders, like right now the president and his cabinet are considering shutting down the government so that he can get funding for a wall and there is what's going on with daca and 300,000 individuals are going to have their release programs revoked so there's so many different facets. one of the areas they focus on ii focus on isthe chords and thi call them the silent dreamers because these are the people there is 2.9 million undocumented immigrants who are dreamers. so they came here when they were an average age of just 6-years-old who don't qualify
for daca. i would have been one of those people. the only reason i am a citizen today is by fluke really. so there's 2.9 million people that are in my situation or in a situation i would have been. they are either in the chords for years after year struggling or they are in hiding or they are sitting in a detention facility. so, those are the people i speak up for because they are the individuals that are not represented in this conversation. of course every aspect and every element of the conversation is important, but i think we each have to tackle one aspect of it and that is the aspect i am tackling and the immigration courts because i spent seven years in immigration court. >> when you were going through this phase and fighting in court you decided to keep it a secret so people yo the people you areg didn't know and no one really knew. what advice would you give
someone who is currently illegal among us? >> that is a great question. in terms of advice, so, if you -- i want to put in the book that i couldn't because it is color coded that i created a maze of the centrally to show just how my journey went and it is a toss of the dice. it just shows how arbitrary the immigration process is. there's no prescription one person can give. i can't say if you do this will guarantee this outcome and if you do that this is how it's going to happen. it is so arbitrary and defective. i wouldn't feel right saying if you were making recommendations about how to approach the process and adjusting the status but one of the things i do is talk about what skills and ways to strengthen yourself as you are going through the process regardless of the outcome.
some of the things i talk about is the importance of community. and, you know, i teach courses on building networks. so, we all hear about networking and the importance but as an undocumented immigrant, it's so much more important because these are not just networks, they end up being your communities and advocates, people who stand up for you and allow you to maneuver through the process come to your hearings and are a shoulder to cry on. all of these things that vouch for you quite honestly when you try to navigate through the process. one of the things i say and i always encourage other undocumented immigrant simon who is funny and different communities, find people and showcase your strength. outside of being undocumented, you are a human being with strengths. you've been able to survive all of this for a reason so showcase
his skills and allow people to invest in you because then they are committed for the long term, and that is really what it took. another thing i talk about is being able to challenge, to navigate through the legal system and knowing and feeling like you are empowered enough to ask for years the right questions. .. >> these are things that work for me. this is how i survived the seven years in deportation proceedings
in 11 years being undocumented. the third thing i encourages having some people call it having not like a sponsor, but essentially someone who can support you emotionally. so another term would be a technical assistant. someone who could go with you to court was basically your liaison between you and your eternity. there are moments when you are so emotional. you may not be able to process what your attorney is saying. some people, english is not your first language. they can't process everything coming out them. so having a friend, someone you can trust who is the soundboard and can retain the information and really relate back to you always helps. i cannot tell you how important that is. i do that for people right now. there were days i was traumatized going into the
courtroom. i was diagnosed with ptsd. let's imagine children who are in these courtrooms by themselves. how damaging that is if i asked an adult was going through that. so, having someone, having a friend. you don't have to know anything about immigration. having someone accompany you is really important it makes a difference. >> i don't want to give away the book too much. in the book, you lost your stepdad at 13. fifteen you lost your mind. you are on your own. later on in life, when you are grown and living in the city, you get a message from your father, that he has been looking for you this entire time. he is in africa. then, you find out you have siblings. you didn't know any of this information. why do you think your mom picked
you? she left so many others behind. she picked you to come to america. >> in the book i lay out my thought process of why my mom picked me and brought me there. for practical terms, i think it's because i was the youngest. i came to the u.s. when i was four years old. she couldn't leave her child behind. i was the least like we to be able to fend for myself. that is one of the reasons. >> what you think is the biggest taste of revenge. or, the biggest success. was that you finally being able to go to your country? or, being an american citizen. >> good question. i would say reframe it.
i would not necessarily focused on the revenge part. but focusing on the success part. it's interesting. yes, being a u.s. citizen, going from being a stateless individual who did not have a passport, country, home, to having u.s. citizenship and being able to travel when i want. having access to a passport. being able to vote. i consider these things privileges. it is not a right that i could assume for many years. it is definitely a privilege. i do not want to minimize that. however, i have spoken to other undocumented immigrants who have been on this journey and they say the same thing. when they get their permanent residency status, when you get that card where you get that stamp of approval and same you are now allowed to be here, it does not give you the freedom
you have been seeking. at the same time, i have these freedoms, i'm still a woman. so, there still challenges that we face in america, just buy it for you bircher of our gender. i'm still a black woman. people still are going to profile me in certain ways. i will never have that freedom that i imagine in my mind. as a result of my citizenship. for me, it was a result of accessing the freedom was a result of the journey of going back to zambia and connecting with my biological father and discovering my identity. that was bigger than any form of citizenship. so that answers your question. for me, it was going to my other
home. what i also discovered when i went home to zambia is at the u.s. was always my home. now, i sit at the intersection of being american, zambian, and congolese. in spite of the fact that i embrace all three identifiers, i am always going to have people who will challenge me as to whether i am american enough or congolese enough. >> since we are in d.c., the white house is not far from us. if you had the opportunity to speak to president donald trump, what would you say to him? >> i would say, there are a lot of things. i would ask him, what do you want? do you want all immigrants to leave? is that what you want? what will that look like for
you. when does it stop? when does it end? what is your ultimate goal. so he can really see and envision. i don't know that he is clear on what his ultimate goal is. a lot of it is a bunch of rhetoric and he is trying to feed in to certain ideas and influence his political beliefs. he is spouting a bunch of inconsistent, quite honestly the facts are incorrect. some rhetoric. so what is your ultimate goal. do you want us all to leave because then we have to bring melania a with us. ultimately to piggyback, i want to engage in conversation, to try to find solutions. right now, he is in the process of appointing a new attorney general. william barr, who is going to
take over jeff sessions role. as i mentioned. immigration courts is an area i think is important to me and has to be reshaped. it is completely broken. i don't know that the average person knows that. there are over 750,000 pending immigration cases. there are 54 immigration courts in the country. there are about 350 immigration -- each immigration judge gets a 1,000 cases a year. that's insane. secondly, they are given quotas. thus a second piece. the third thing, and i learned this information recently after appearing in court on behalf of someone i was mentoring, some of the judges are recently appointed. they are attorneys. that's okay. there is growth in positions and careers. but these attorneys are not necessarily immigration
attorneys. you can take a real estate lawyer and appoint them to be an immigration judge. like that scary. and to think about as we talk about individuals under temporary protected status and he might lose that release, will we talk about individuals applying for asylum and they may not get it most likely. when you talk about daca recipients. all of these will probably end up in the court system that is already broken. would like to sit with the president and say, let's put together a team that can reevaluate the immigration court. maybe it should not fall under the attorney general. maybe it should be structured like every other court under the judicial system. that's one of the things i would want to discuss.
>> the last question, what is next? >> that would be one thing. i really want to push for a change in the restructuring of the immigration courts. that is near and dear to me. that is the first thing. secondly, i would love to build out support organizations or build out my own organization that supports immigrants in a couple of ways. in the ways i mentioned. providing with mental health counseling. that's the first thing. secondly, being able to provide them with legal assistance. whether scholarship funding so they can get the right attorney to support them in their journey and thirdly, being able to support undocumented youth working with corporations to create funding so they can continue with their education. i have a lot of aspirations.
the last piece of it is being able to continue to help and support others in telling their stories. the reason i decided to publish the book as i got tired of everyone telling our stories and using statistics to tell our stories. we are more than just numbers. >> i'm going to give it to the audience for q&a. do you have any questions for myself or our guests? >> the question was, i mentioned i got my citizenship it was a fluke. the question was, how did that happen. my case was remanded to the immigration appeals which is the highest immigration court. it was remanded to them twice. they are one of the most, one of
many courts that is slow in processing cases. they don't look at cases to review cases. the chance of sending my case to them twice in the first time they sent to back to the immigration judge and said look at it again. immigration case said no, i want this woman out of here. let's put her in a detention facility. i'm going to take this up with the attorney general if we don't make it happen. he sent it back to the board of immigration appeals. finally they said, we are going to close the case. we will make the judge give her a green card. i was told by many attorneys, that doesn't actually happen. that's a fluke. like one in a thousand chances for that to happen.
the board of immigration currently does not have the bandwidth to look at cases. let alone they gave a six page response. as to why i deserve to be in america and permanent resident status. that does not happen really. certainly there are things i did to enhance the probability of that happening. at the end of the day, it was a fluke. >> what was the most significant thing i learned coming to america? for me, such as coming to america, being at the intersection of being in america, living as american and
then going back to zambia. learning identity is what you make of it. people will define you how they want to. in america every day, i have people asked me where i'm from all the time. it never fails. doesn't matter what community or race, people always asked me where i am from. going back to zambia that's the same question. what i realized, identity is the journey you have within yourself to figure out who your and where your home is. >> thank you. >> i'm curious as to how did you
go about finding the information, the what have you to tell your story. and what made you think it's a story that people want to hear? i spoke in to a couple of peop people. >> it's actually my book where i talk about how i presented my story to editors. they said that's boring. these are establish editors the like no. the story about your dad will be more interesting. nobody wants to hear about immigration. don't listen to them. tell your story. we need more people to tell their stories. i had a conversation with my best friend and i said forget about motivation. don't let motivation keep you from doing what you want to do.
sometimes it's about survival it's about being able to hear the story because is going to help other people. i started writing a story 14 years ago when i was going through the darkest moments of my life i would come home from court and i would write i was so angry that i just wrote. i absolutely thought i would end up in a detention facility. i didn't know i would make it out of the detention facility. we have many people that don't. i want people to know that i existed. that was my first reason for writing. i was here at one point because nothing else supports. i am a human being. secondly, i wanted people to know this is happening in
america. to someone like me. i'm the least threatening person. i would imagine. i want people to know that's why i started writing. the reason i published it my got tired. you have politicians and policy advisors and these people that study immigration, economists, they're studying it or reading it. and you have the media that sharing, but what about us. we should tell our own stories. were the only ones that can tell it the right way. it is not meant for everyone. it will target a certain audience which is why their space for more of us to write and tell our stories. so we are able to connect with a wider audience collectively. thank you.
>> thank you for sharing your story. for immigration in general is very polarizing. you are a public figure in the immigration space. can you talk about the response to your speeches in terms of how polarizing the topic is in the united states and how people responded. >> that's a good question. i would say that i have been on radio interviews where get the most -- they seem like asinine questions. illegal immigrants are raping and killing people. and i'm like really. that's ignorant. i would assume that anyone who is educated and in the right mind would not ask those type of questions.
sometimes it shocking and alarming the type of questions i get. for the most part, just because i'm in the beginning stages of be more public, the audience has been receptive when it is in person. in terms of social media, i get the craziest messages sometimes. sometimes i do get scared. i do worry that is someone going to hurt me? the more public i become is someone going to be so upset they'll do something. on my youtube channel the very first video i posted about daca and how i could have benefited from daca. i guess really disgusting responses about how i should have died on my way here to america. how all of us immigrants are bad
people. yes, you can look at those and dismiss them and say it's ignorance, but it's also scary to think people are saying those things. you just don't know what people are capable of reacting and showcasing those emotions in person, if given the opportunity. i think overall i would say i'm still motivated to keep going and sharing my story. i have apprehension sometimes about my safety. >> any other questions? >> i will end on this. you said there's a difference between helping someone and investing in someone. people invested in you, which is why you became successful. can you explain the difference between helping and investing? and, how does that help? >> i finished doing the tad act
talk about the difference between investing versus helping. for me, i define it as, when someone is helping you, they see a cherry. it's one time i'm going to give it to you. it's usually just monetary. there is nothing wrong with that, but it is short-term. if someone needs that short-term assistance, help is great. there is a way to reposition your mind and reframe and think about it as investing. when you want someone to be in its with you in the long term. when you want to be invested in you and that journey, so it does not become just about you but you and that person. that is what my whole life was people investing in me. we are not so far from georgia avenue where i was working in my own's consignment shop at 16
years old. she took me out of school. i was hopeless in that moment. in came a stranger who decided that something needed to be done. there is something wrong with the situation. she decided she would connect me with a group of other individuals that decided they would invest in me. to this day i am connected with these people. if it would help it would've been a matter of getting her boarding school. investment looks like, this judge, this not immigration judge but a judge she was my benefactor, he and his wife are very much a part of my life. they paid my way through boarding school years ago. i spoke to them yesterday. they will have a book event for me in their home in a month. that's what investing looks
like. it means, i am with you throughout the entire journey. you are not alone. i'm not going to abandon you. it's about you growing and i'm growing as a person. >> final thoughts or questions #. >> i'm curious about the book. what are the contradictions you find now that you are an american citizen. as an african woman, as a black woman? what are the contradictions you find. here you are with all of the opportunities the still intersections that are unique. how are you navigating that.
>> in terms of the contradictions, it took me, i became a u.s. citizen it's in 2012. it took a good three or four years for me to come out of my identity crisis. for a long time i was like who am i. i was always this undocumented immigrant. who am i now? how do i define myself? one of the contradictions is that i talk about intersection analogy and it is so true for most of us. i am here to support the cause because i know it so well and so deeply. but, others may not feel like i'm deserving. i am not in it anymore. there sometimes a feeling of guilt.
is it okay that i am speaking on behalf of other undocumented immigrants who are still going through it, when i don't have to? that is really my biggest challenge. what i can say is that i feel we need more voices in this conversation. that is the reason i believe we are still having this conversation. we are not allowing more voices and more perspectives to engage in this discourse. we need the individuals who come out of it to also be part of the conversation. they are the ones who can talk about the potential that undocumented immigrants have. we are not angry, divisive people. we just want to contribute to our economy, to his society, et cetera. that is why i keep going. i hope and i feel strongly that we should allow for more people
to be part of this conversation. that would be one of the biggest contradictions that i experience on a daily basis. >> final remarks. >> for me, there's so much going on in this book. there is discussion severe ptsd, i've learned so much. this is all coming to a head right now. who is the audience for your book that you are most eager to pick up your book? >> that's a great question. and definitely individuals who are going through it, i think that is important. but, i would be remiss if it was just them. it is just as important for someone who has, who works at corporations to read these
stories, to read my story and say, look at this woman. as someone not invested in her, she would not have ended up where she is. these are individuals that have the financial influence to make changes, to invest in other undocumented immigrants. those are the individuals i think is important for them to be reading the story as well. i was say immigrants, undocumented immigrants, or immigrants as a whole. also individuals who have the clout to make changes. those are generally people who have deep pockets. >> thank you for coming out. [applause] >> thank you all for coming. we will move on to our book signing. if you want to grab a copy, we have them at the front.
thank you again. please join me in giving one final round of applause. [applause] have a good night everybody. >> thank you so much for coming. >> here are some current best-selling audiobooks. topping the list is, becoming, for former first lady michelle obama's, matte moore. then we recall growing up in the idaho mountains in, educated. followed by, the look at human history, sapiens. in the first conspiracy, brad and john reed count the plot that killed george washington by soldiers were protect him.
wrapping up audiobooks, his daily show host, the reflection on growing up in apartheid south africa. most of the authors have appeared on book tv. you can watch them online at booktv.org. >> over the past 20 years, but tv has covered thousands of author events and book festivals. here's a portion of her recent program. >> i think we really are looking at some type of precipice. i wanted to make the case for journalism and journalistic institutions. the second messages journalism has to be better. just like everything with the internet. nothing survives unless it's better than what the rest of the internet can do. i think in thinking about why we
sometimes struggle with this and why people are not naturally turning to journalism as widely as we should, i think we have to square up to the feelings that we have. >> you can watch this and other programs in the entirety booktv.org type the authors name in the search bar at the top of the page. >> no hol...