Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Eddy's Update (from his blogger)

Eddy found out from his Guardian Angel yesterday that he would be released today. After being picked up by his family, Eddy got a haircut and saw his nephew & a new addition to the family. His parents were adoringly intent on overfeeding him. Though his deportation obstacle is still present, beginning tonight, Eddy will reside in Oakland. As soon as he is set up on a computer, he looks forward keeping in touch with you personally from now on through this blog.

Stay tuned.


From Eddy's Guardian Angel:

Friends & supporters of Eddy Zheng:

This afternoon, Eddy Zheng was released from immigration detention! This does NOT mean that he will not be deported. It only means that he is no longer being held in immigration detention, while the government goes through the procedures of carrying out his deportation, which could take a while. He is continuing to challenge his deportation order in federal courts, which will probably take another year. If the government is able to carry out his deportation before the courts overturn the deportation order, he will be sent back to China.

This was a very unexpected and unusual development, and we only found out yesterday that they were planning to release him today.

This is the first time Eddy has been on the outside in 21 years -- since January 1986. He was reunited with his family at around 1pm in San Francisco today. He asked me to let you all know that he is extremely grateful for all of your support over the years. He said that he is very excited and that it feels very natural to be out.

This is an extraordinary victory, although it is not yet complete. We are all extremely excited about focusing on winning the final part -- the overturning of his deportation order.

Stay tuned for info on an event to welcome Eddy back.

It's nice to finally share some good news with you all...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Sixth Day

The Chinese is superstitious during the lunar new year. They follow religiously the many "do"s and "don't"s to ensure a prosperous year.

One of the "don't"s is that you can't cut your hair on the sixth day of the new year.

I'd planned to get a haircut yesterday, but I wasn't able to find a seat. Also, the person cutting my hair wanted to go to sleep. Therefore, I had to wait until today to get a haircut.

Yesterday was the sixth day of the new year.

Today, I look fabulous.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Words of Wisdom

"I believe that all the hardships we face only build character in us. We can look at the icy barrenness of a garden in winter and hardly imagine that it will be in bloom in the spring. Sometimes when we are under pressure, we can't see the purpose. But Jews are compared to the olives. When we are under pressure the pure olive is extracted."

Whenever I read the wisdom from my Jewish brother Stephen, my spirit is uplifted.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One Two, One Two

The Chinese detainee who had learned how to play all varieties of American games left for China today. He was ecstatic. He no longer has to deal with the struggle of language barriers.

For those detainees who lived with him, they'll remember him as "one two, one two". That's because he uses those two words every day when he plays the card game Uno.

I can imagine him teaching his Chinese friends in China Uno and yelling, "One two, one two."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One More Fight to Go

After being locked up for 28 years, a Peruvian life prisoner earned his parole. Instead of going home to be with his family and enjoying his freedom, ICE picked him up and detained him for deportation. Like me, he will be locked up in this immigration detention facility to fight for his release.

Though I haven't seen him in person, Juan and I knew each other when we were in San Quentin. he was the one who taught me how to "fish" when I was solitary confinement for the first time. I appreciate his help.

I'm happy for Juan and his family. He's free at last, almost.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Expressing Bitterness

A Chinese detainee explained to me how a Canadian detainee and his clique had bullied him. They wouldn't let him sit at the table to eat his meals. He doesn't speak any English, so he couldn't communicate with the bullies. All he could do was cuss at them in Chinese. He didn't back down. One thing led to another, and Canadian guy pushed him. The deputies intervened before things escalated into serious violence.

While the Chinese guy expressed his frustrating experience to me, I thought about the suffering immigrants must endure due to language barriers.

It's sad that some immigration detainees feel the need to take advantage of others because they don't speak English. They feel the need to get territorial while they're dealing with deportation.

i can assure you that there is plenty of bitterness in immigration detentions.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kids and the Law

I have to applaud the Foundation of the State Bar of California for producing the Youth Survival Guide and Kids and the Law. It has provided a thorough and plethora of information on the laws that kids, youths, adults, and families must know.

It's great that those information came in multilingual format. I implore all the Asian Pacific Americans to get a copy of those survival guides. They can save lives.

I just received a copy of Kids and the Law through the Singtao Chinese Newspaper. It's a pleasant surprise.

Monday, February 19, 2007

In Search of Roots

After reading Sunday's S.F. Chronicle story on Asian Americans searching for their roots in China, it reminded me how little I know about my roots.

As a kid, I went to my Dad and Mom's ancestral villages Taishan and Zhongshan respectively during summer and winter breaks. Growing up in a city made the lifestyle of the villages foreign to me. I enjoyed my short stays, but didn't want to live there permanently. I was too young to appreciate my roots.

One day, I hope I can return to my roots and discover its beauty.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Year of the Pig

Who would have thought the year of the pig is my lucky year? Yes, some time this year I will be a free man.

I celebrated the beginning of the lunar year with a fellow Chinese detainee. We ate some fried noodles and drank Kool-Aid. At night, we watched a special Chinese soiree on AZN TV. I was amazed when I saw an African guy singing in Mandarin. His pronunciation was better than mine. I enjoyed watching the programs made possible by satellite directly from China.

I'm ready for what this lunar year has in store for me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Still Waiting

I never know who I may run into while I'm in immigration detention. When I was on my way to the exercise yard this afternoon, I saw a Vietnamese detainee who was in prison with me. When I left prison two years ago, he was anticipating his immigration detention since he was not a U.S. citizen. He couldn't believe that I'm still locked up.

Well, he's better off than my current situation since Vietnamese detainees are not deportable. He'll be home with his family after 90 days or 180 days.

Me, I'm still waiting.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Case for Reasonable Doubt

The innocence or guilt of death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has been a controversy internationally for over two decades. Mumia is still fighting for his freedom.

For more information on Mumia's case, you can go to www.freemumia.org/tools.html to view the HBO documentary A Case for Reasonable Doubt.

You can help to save a life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Father's Tear

After my neighbor got off the telephone, his eyes were red and tears were running down his cheek. He was talking to his six-year-old son. The separation from his son was too much for him to bear. He let out a scream after he went back to his cell. Then he washed his face and went about his business.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Youth Survival Guide

The Foundation of the State Bar of California put together a survival guide for youth who are turning eighteen years old.

The survival guide provides a wide range of information to help youth prepare to become an independent and law-abiding person. The guide is translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.

I find the information extremely useful. If I had such a guide when I was 16 years old, my life could be totally different.

I think there should be a survival guide for youth between ages 12 and 17. It's important for them to understand their rights. The laws that pertain to them (i.e. Proposition 21), and consequences of their delinquent activities.

To obtain a copy of the survival guide, please write to

When You Become 18
Office of Media and Information Services
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639

or email


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Growing Up Fast

I was on the phone with Mom when my nephew Andrew came home from school. I heard a burst of energy rush through the door. It's been a long time since I've spoken to him, so I asked to talk with him.

Andrew picked up the phone and said hello. He told me that he has a test coming up and needed to study. He's been going to baseball practice to get ready for the season in April. He said he wants to be a third baseman. This weekend, he's going skiing with the family. Before he hung up, he wished me a happy Chinese new year.

It's a joy for me to talk to Andrew. At eight years old, he is extremely articulate. I can't wait to get out there be an active part in his life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Guest Blogger

Here in Yuba County Jail, we are known as detainees as opposed to inmates, but in reality, it's all the same.

A fortnight ago, I met Eddy Zheng here. We are from a different world, from a different past. We are both Chinese in appearance but that is all. So, how have we become friends?

It is also where our similarities start. This is courtesy of the D.H.S. (Department of Homeland Security). We are in the same position, fighting or dreaming to stay here in the U.S. Eddy for his parents and friends, me for my son. Either way, it is for our family.

I have met maybe 100 "detainees" but there is a big difference between ones like us and the others. Let's face it, we are in jail, hardly the most ideal place to spend our Lunar New Year, but that is not an excuse to be negative. By and large, we (Eddy & I) are pretty upbeat and positive about life despite the position and "process" we are stuck in.

That is the moral of the story. It does not matter where we come from or how we came to be there, we have to thankful for everything.

It never ceases to amaze me how people with so much more are so much less happy or satisfied.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

SingTao Surprise

It was a pleasant surprise when I receive a
6-month subscription to the Chinese newspaper SingTao Newspaper. Since I don't know what my deportation status is, I didn't want to bother my friend for a subscription. I guess my friend just decided to get me the newspaper anyway. He figured if I do leave detention, the newspaper will go to other Chinese detainees.

I'm grateful for his generous consideration.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

No Hip Hope Here

One of the perks of working int he kitchen is being able to listen to music. Depending on which cook is working, he will put on the music of his choice. The workers can request a certain kind of music sometimes.

For some reason, there's no signal for hip hop radio stations. I haven't heard a rap song on the radio for about 20 months.

Maybe the location of the radio can't get the signal for the hip hop stations.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Featuring All History

I enjoy reading about all the people who are being featured in the S.F. Chronicle "Datebook" during Black History Month.

However, I want to see the Chronicle's special feature to continue all year round. It would be awesome if every day the newspaper would feature one special person from people of all racial backgrounds. Maybe that will help people see the commonalities we share.

All history is important.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Beating the Odds

We often hear about parolees going back to prison for parole violations and committing new crimes. But one of the biggest reasons that the prison population is high (173,000) is due to people violating their paroles. And the biggest reason they can't beat parole is that there are not enough re-entry programs to help them assimilate back into society.

However, there are those parolees who are able to beat the odds and make it. They were able to stay focused on their goals through discipline and support from loved ones.

When I heard from a friend who had made a successful re-entry to society, I felt proud of him.

I wish there were more success stories for ex-cons.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No Greater Love

When you ask someone what his or her idea of greatest love is, you'll get a variety of responses.

To me, there is no greater love than a mother's love for her child. I'd discovered during my incarceration that my mother's unconditional love for me and my siblings is the greatest love. Somehow the more I listen to my mom the more I understand how much she loves her children.

I just want to have an opportunity to love my mother the best way I can. I don't ever want to take my mom's love for granted like I did at 16.

Though you're never going to read this, I love you, Mom.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Learning Something New

I was browsing Glenn Reynolds's book An Army of Davids and learned that bologs were called "Mezines."

Did you know that?

The One

What does it feel like to have no one to confide in during your frustrated and stressful times?

Everyone has his or her way to vent in difficult times when there's no one to count on. Ultimately, human connection is something that we need to overcome the feeling of loneliness. Just knowing that there is one person in this world whom you can count on can make or break a person.

Someone you care about is counting on you. Just be there. You're the one.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superbowl Sunday in Jail

Im not much of a gambling man, but I won one push-up when the Colts won the Superbowl. It was a friendly wager to make watching the game more exciting.

There were no chips, not beers, no feasts, no sodas, no snacks, and definitely no women around.

But, there was plenty of yelling, jumping, table pounding, and laughing. I don't think you can find a more clean and healthy environment during a Superbowl game anywhere.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Being in Grace

My friend Bradley reflected on a day he'd spent in Grace Cathedral of San Francisco that "a cathedral is a moment of grace in time and space, celestial and terrestrial."

I've never been in a cathedral in person. However, I've been in moments of grace many times. Whenever I'm able to experience being in the present whether in pain or joy, grace was with me.

That's the miracle of life. I can be in a cathedral without being in a cathedral.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Hanging Strong

KTVU Channel 2 evening news featured a reporting on San Quentin Prison's inmate programs. As I watched the clip, I recognized a few of the life prisoners. One of them was an older Latino who was my barber on and off for eight years. He's still staying in shape jogging and punching the boxing bag. Another guy had worked with me in the youth program and Alternatives to Violence program for years. He has aged visibly since I saw him. He's still participating in programs. Other familiar faces I saw were in good good spirit.

Those guys are still hanging strong. For lifers, either they live in hope of die in hopelessness.

Deportation Update

As of today, I am still under the order of deportation.

According to immigration law, if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not
removed me from the U.S. in 90 days, the ICE field office director will review my case for consideration of release on the Order of Supervision.

Today is my 90-day custody review. However, ICE denied my release and decided to keep me in detention.

I will remain in ICE custody pending my removal from the U.S.

ICE stated that it's actively pursuing to secure travel documents from the Chinese Embassy so it can deport me.

I've complied with the order of removal. However, I don't know how long it will take for ICE to obtain my travel documents.

I believe that I should be released from ICE custody until it's time for my departure.

My future continues to be in a holding pattern.