Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Wages of Sincerity

Those who worry about the flood of illegal immigrants, the Lou Dobbs legion, can take comfort in the story of Pedro Zapeta. U. S. Customs is on the job.

Zapeta came here from Guatemala, worked as a dishwasher for 11 years and lived frugally to make enough money to buy land in his mountain village and build a home for his mother and sisters. He was not educated enough to send money home or put it into a bank.

He saved $59,000 in cash, stuffed it into a duffel bag and went to the Ft. Lauderdale terminal for a flight home. When Customs officials asked how much money he had, Zapeta showed them the duffel bag. They seized it.

That was two years ago. Ever since, his volunteer lawyers have been trying to prove he was not a drug courier by providing pay stubs for his $5.50 an hour job. Customs officials had turned him over to the I.N.S., which initiated proceedings to deport the man who had been trying to leave the country.

When the story went public, well-wishers donated $10,000 to Zapeta’s cause, but the I.R.S. stepped in to claim taxes on all of his money.

His attorneys say federal prosecutors offered a deal: Zapeta could take $10,000 of the original cash, and $9,000 in donations as long as he didn't talk publicly and left the country immediately. He said no.

This week, a judge signed an order allowing him to work legally in the U. S. temporarily until his tax problems are sorted out. Would Lou Dobbs call that amnesty?


Anonymous said...

If anyone disagrees with this ruling of US District Judge James I. Cohn, which I think is unfair, unjust, and immoral, they should let the Judge Cohn know what they think. They should hold him accountable.

After a quick google search, this is the phone number to his office. You can leave him a voice mail by dialing:


and then pressing 6

Let him now how you feel.

Anonymous said...

I found a website that intends on donating advertising revenue to Pedro Zapeta. I believe that this site is trying to do the right thing...check it out if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

Check out this great immigration rights song called ZAPETA at