Undocumented and Thriving

I came across an interesting article in the New York Times yesterday about a Paraguayan who had lobbied for a job in the consulate office of New York. The individual, Augusto Noguera, seemed to lead a model immigrant life: he ran a section of a construction company, was involved in various non-profit organizations, and even hosted elected officials in his home when they visited from Paraguay.

Noguera clearly had political ambitions in all this, and finally got his wish for an administrative position in the consulate office after traveling to Paraguay and lobbying hard. But when he applied for a visa to return, it was learned that he was actually an undocumented immigrant. Denied a legal route, he tried to cross through a California checkpoint using another person’s passport, but was apprehended. He’s now in a detention center in Arizona, awaiting deportation.

The story highlights how surprising it could be that such a person–successful, connected, savvy–could be undocumented. But if you’re worked in immigrant communities of New York, you know that it’s really not that surprising. I’m consistently amazed by the ingenuity of people without papers in crafting strategies to thrive. More than a few times, I’ve learned that someone I assumed had a green card was in fact undocumented. Though they run companies and engage in complicated business transactions, they’ve found ways to get around all sorts of issues. It’s hard enough to be a successful entrepreneur in this world, but these folks, having to deal with an especially tough challenge on top of it, somehow make it work.

I also thought one of the Paraguayan responses to the situation was odd. From the article:

“We want qualified people with sensitivity to the needs of Paraguayans abroad, not political appointments,” said Miguel Acosta of Yonkers, the publisher of El Mirador Paraguayo, a monthly newspaper. “It’s more than embarrassing. We’re sad. Coming from one of the most corrupt countries in the world, we’ve lost the capacity to be embarrassed.”

While I’ll agree that the situation might be construed as embarrassing, I certainly don’t understand why an undocumented immigrant would be unqualified to be sensitive to the needs of Paraguayan immigrants. For the Mexican immigrants I know, many would probably prefer at least one undocumented immigrant in the consulate office, so they would find someone that could better relate to their situation.

Not that I’m standing up for this guy. He made a terrible decision by leaving his family in New York to lobby for the appointment. That, and his aggressive courting of politicians, makes me think that he’s likely a very power-hungry individual with grand ambitions who won’t hesitate in the future to again sacrifice the needs of his family when they get in the way of his plans (if so, he’s already on his way to a successful career in politics).

***
Speaking of thriving in the shadows, the book launch party date is officially set! More details to come, but for now here’s a hold the date invite:

Drinking in the Shadows
Book Release Party for Working in the Shadows
Thursday, January 28, 7 PM
Soda Bar
629 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

I can confirm from previous inspections that Soda Bar is indeed shadowy.

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